Memphis Stone and Gravel

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 5, 2010

City wants retry after court ruling

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville aldermen voted 3 to 1 in executive session Tuesday to file a motion for rehearing of the Mississippi Court of Appeals’ decision announced last week to overturn the city’s variance that allows Memphis Stone and Gravel to mine gravel aggregate on leased land near Highway 35 South.

The area south and west of Batesville involves 65 acres near an existing gravel and sand mine, 18 acres of which was located within the city limits and near the home of Scott and Mona Harrison.

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The Harrisons initially filed an appeal in Panola County Circuit Court to block the city’s 2008 decision to allow the mining. When the circuit court sided with the city, the Harrisons filed an appeal.

In a ruling last Tuesday, the Court of Appeals agreed with the plaintiffs, stating that the variance constituted “… impermissible spot zoning … .”

“The mayor and board of aldermen made a decision … to authorize their counsel to file a motion for review in the Courts of Appeals,” said Cleveland attorney Ben Griffith, who represents the city.

“Our intention is to get this case before the Supreme Court,” Griffith said. Griffith said that the Appeals Court erred by failing to give proper consideration of the local decision-making process.

“(Circuit) Judge Andy Baker is one of the best viewed and highest respected judges in the entire state,” Griffith said. “It’s the type of decision that ought to be reversed.”

Aldermen Bill Dugger, Ted Stewart and Eddie Nabors voted to pursue the appeal.

Alderman Stan Harrison voted against further litigation. Stan Harrison is the brother of Scott Harrison.

Alderman Teddy Morrow was out of town and unable to attend the meeting. He listened to the proceedings by phone but could not vote.