Sunday, December 03, 2006

Claremont Harbor and Lakeshort

Lakeshore and Clermont Harbor eye incorporation
By DWAYNE BREMERDec 1, 2006, 17:36

Residents of the Lakeshore and Clermont Harbor communities met Tuesday evening to discuss the incorporation issue at a town hall meeting held in the garage of the Lakeshore Body Shop.
The meeting was run by Attorney Donald Rafferty who gave a presentation and answered questions from the crowd of about 150 residents.
Rafferty is a defense attorney and the city attorney for the city of Bay St. Louis. He has also represented the Paradise Property group which wants to develop high-rise condos in the Lakeshore area. He said Tuesday he has been working with a group of residents from the Lakeshore and Clermont area about the possibility of the two communities becoming one city.
"We are here to see if we have enough interest to form another city on the west end of Hancock County," he said. "So many people have wanted to get involved in this so far."
He explained that before the idea of becoming a city could even get off the ground a petition must be signed by at least two thirds of the registered voters of the area.
He said election rolls show there are about 1,400 voters in the Lakeshore, Clermont, and Ansley areas.Former Supervisor Jerry Ladner said about 500 signatures have been obtained so far, and he believes the two-thirds number can be reached.
"We have to find out where these people are," Ladner said. "Once we do that I think we can get the signatures. Me personally, I would like to leave everything the same, but we can't do that. If we do not do this, then Waveland will annex us."
Despite several attempts by Rafferty and Ladner to convince residents that an annexation from Waveland is imminent, some residents did not understand the reasons behind incorporation.
"Why do we need all this stuff," Wilbur Lafleur asked. "Are we not living the life we want? I ain't signing no petition."
Resident Russell Lafontaine responded by repeating the theme of the evening.
"If we do not form our own city, we are going to be a part of Waveland."
Rafferty said he has gotten assurances from Waveland officials that the city is not looking to take over the area; however, he said the city's actions point to a different story.
He said the new Silver Slipper Casino would be attractive to a city and he said Waveland has been putting gas and water lines in the Lakeshore and Clermont areas to provide utility services
."We need to ask ourselves now, do we want to be our own city or reach into our pockets to fight them (Waveland) or just let them take it?" he asked.
Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo said Wednesday his city is not looking at annexing the Lakeshore and Clermont areas right now, and that leaders of the area are using "scare tactics" to try to convince the residents to incorporate.
"We have never been invited to one of these meetings," Longo said. "We have not had the chance to respond. We just got a whole bunch of property. We want to help the people of Lakeshore and Clermont out, but we have our hands full right now." He said the decision to put gas and utility services in the area was on request of the casino and was a prudent decision.
"The casino is our first customer," he said. "We got our certification just prior to the storm. They are in bad shape in Clermont and Lakeshore and we are just trying to help them out."
Rafferty said the area would greatly benefit from being incorporated into a city.
He said the area would receive 18.5 percent of the sales tax generated in the area, would be eligible for tidelands and road grants, and residents would see a dramatic drop in fire insurance rates.
He said if the signatures were obtained then it may costs between $30,000 to $75,000 to fund the tasks of becoming a city.
"It is going to cost money to hire a planner, an expert witness, and cost costs," he said. "If you have to fight an annexation battle, it is going to cost a lot more."
He said the community could raise the necessary money through private and corporate donations, as well as possibly having fundraisers.
One citizen asked if the area would lose county services if it were to incorporate.
Rafferty said the county is still obligated to provide services if it is requested and he pointed to D'Iberville as an example of a city with county services.
"D'Iberville incorporated in 1988," he said. "Today it is a thriving city. They contract the police service to the sheriff's department."
Rafferty also said city's are given road and bridge money from the county, as well.

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