County opts out of building codes

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NATCHEZ — Adams County won’t have building codes.

The county Board of Supervisors voted Monday to opt out of a zoning ordinance the state legislature had instructed counties to adopt earlier this year.

While the City of Natchez has building codes in place, the areas of Adams County outside the city limits remain largely unregulated in terms of what can be built — and how it can be built — on private or business property.

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The legislative measure would have required any counties that didn’t have building code requirements to adopt one of three state-approved codebooks by this month, but included a provision that also allowed counties to opt out entirely.

Most of the community response to the proposed code adoption has been outspoken against it, and Monday the board affirmed those feelings with no discussion. President Darryl Grennell asked for a motion to opt out of the codes, Supervisor Calvin Butler made the motion and Supervisor Angela Hutchins seconded it.

The motion passed without dissent.

“It is unanimous, Mr. Clerk,” Grennell told Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne. “There will be no codes in Adams County.”

In other news:

• The board appointed Cynthia Smith, whose background includes teaching, counseling and administration, to the Natchez-Adams School District’s board of trustees.

Smith will fill the unexpired term left by Ruth Nichols, who was appointed earlier this year but resigned from the board in July.

The board made the appointment after interviewing Smith and three others. The other nominees included Diane Good, a community volunteer who runs a tutoring program; Amos James, a retired veteran; and Jim Smith, a retired educator.

• The board voted to close the Jackson Point Road.

The box culvert under the road was damaged during the high water of 2011, and the structure has continued to fail until the road is not safely passable, Road Manager Robbie Dollar said.

County Engineer Jim Marlow said the road “definitely needs to be shut down.”

Some estimates have placed the cost of repairing the road at $1 million.

Board Attorney Scott Slover said the county has been fighting for funding to fix the road from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for a couple of years.

“We should be entitled to that money because it was caused by a natural disaster,” Slover said.

County Administrator Joe Murray said the county has filed an appeal and a second appeal with FEMA in the matter, and he is continuing to forward correspondence from those affected to the federal and state offices in charge of the decision.

Jackson Point is in the rural southern end of Adams County near the Mississippi River, and is largely used for farming and hunting.

Dollar said something would have to be done to make the road safe to use before it is time to harvest soybeans later this year.

“(Farmer Ross McGehee) has a half-million dollars worth of crops down there, and it certainly affects him,” Dollar said.

McGehee said he has been able to access his crops this spring by building a board road similar to those used by oil production companies.

• The board heard objections to tax assessments.

Two companies — Stine’s and Isle of Capri — objected to their assessments.

The board closed the hearing without taking any action.

The land rolls will have to be officially adopted by September, O’Beirne said.

• The board met in executive session to discuss legal strategy associated with the bankruptcy of the county-owned hospital, Natchez Regional Medical Center.