| By John Howell Sr.
City officials agreed Tuesday to a cost sharing arrangement for an under-road bore that will allow utility access to the Bethlehem Heights just outside Batesville city limits.
Developer John Persons agreed to pay $3,500 of the estimated cost of $5,000 for a 12-inch bore to create a tunnel under Bethlehem Road to allow gas and water lines to reach six homes Persons is building there.
Person and his engineer, Byron Houston of Batesville’s Houston Engineering, had previously met with city officials and secured a pledge that the city would bear the expense for three small bores for water to the site. Tuesday’s decision will allow the full complement of city services for the six homes currently planned and for 11 more that Persons plans to develop when the initial six have been completed.
The decision was reached after Person, Houston, water and sewer superintendent Ricky Shirey and city engineer Blake Mendrop left the meeting room to discuss the change in plans.`
"We are going to do it right and do it now instead of piece mealing it," Shirey said when the men returned to the meeting. City officials agreed to shoulder the same expense that the city would have incurred for the smaller bores – about $500 each, according to Shirey – if Persons agreed to pay the difference for the larger bore.
City officials also stipulated that Person adopt a restrictive covenant language that would prohibit Bethlehem Heights residents from opposing annexation by the city should the annexation be proposed.
In another city development related to housing, aldermen voted to turn down a housing grant available through the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) when it became apparent that the developer could not locate a sufficient amount of land in the city.
Charlie Sanders of Sanders Lumber and Construction of Senatobia had successfully applied for a home program grant for the city which required the city to handle the grant money. When he was unable to locate sufficient land in the city to build the homes he approached city officials about an interlocal agreement that would allow him to use the grant for home construction on lots both in the city limits and in the county.
"The city has got a grant at this moment, but we’re going to lose it if we don’t use it," Sanders said.
However, assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell said that he had contacted MDA, and was told that the issue of the city administering funds used for home construction outside city limits created legal problems that would consume much of the time left before the time expired for the grant’s utilization.
Alderman Rufus Manley made the motion to turn down the grant. It passed unanimously