The proposed mayor of Bellevue says there’s a question for Columbia about who will be the closest city to its east: a newly incorporated Bellevue or Hattiesburg extending nearer through annexation.
And John Adcock said in a talk to the Columbia Rotary Club May 7 that he believes Bellevue would be a really great neighbor.
“Right now we’re the next closest thing to you. I’ve made the joke several times that the city of Columbia needs to watch out because eventually the city of Hattiesburg is going to determine you’re in their path of growth and try to annex you,” he said.
That’s the reality now for Bellevue, the unincorporated but rapidly growing community just outside the Hattiesburg city limits. It wants to incorporate, in part to stop Hattiesburg from annexing a roughly 4-mile stretch of U.S. 98, which includes many businesses but very few homes.
The two sides are locked in a legal battle with a chancellor appointed from Columbus expected to settle it (the local judges all recused themselves).
Hattiesburg is trying to take in an area that would stretch down 98 from the Newpointe Shopping Center to Mack’s West restaurant but only include about 20 homes.
“They’re trying to come in and collect sales tax, and basically not have to provide any services to anybody out there,” Adcock said. “They’ve cut down the middle of 98, so they’ve cut out all the residents and are not giving anybody out there a vote. So essentially what they can do is do anything they want to along the commercial corridor, control all of that and take all the sales tax, do whatever they want to with it and not give any of the people who live in that community any kind of ability to complain or vote anybody out or have any kind of say so whatsoever in what they do with that sales tax.”
In response, Bellevue wants to form its own city to prevent that and is mounting a second effort to do so. Adcock led a previous incorporation attempt beginning in 2015 that he said fell about 200 signatures short. He said they did well in most neighborhoods but couldn’t get into a few.
They’ve scaled back this time, cutting down from 15 square miles to 10 and 6,200 people to 3,200. The neighborhoods included — most of which are upscale areas with newer homes —include Canebrake, Bridgefield, Cumberland and Bellegrass.
Adcock said they would have more police presence and zoning benefits as well as the ability to invest the sales tax revenue back into their community, something he says he doesn’t believe Hattiesburg has any intention of doing because it’s annexing such a narrow strip. The self-professed conservative Republican said he believe cities exist to serve people, not just collect taxes.
In response to a question, Adcock said he’s not familiar with Columbia’s plan to annex, which differs from Hattiesburg’s because it’s mainly aimed at residential areas, not a narrow strip of businesses.
“I just hope that it’s about trying to provide services for the people rather than trying to collect (taxes),” he said.
Charlie Smith is editor and publisher of The Columbian-Progress. Reach him at email@example.com.