Can Diamondhead be un-incorporated?

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  • #3746

    Editor
    Moderator

    The question has been posed if the City of Diamondhead can be unincorporated? Does Mississippi law allow for this? If it does, then how can it be accomplished?

    #3745

    ginnylea
    Member

    As I understand it, the City can vote to unincorporate. There is plenty of president. For example, Metairie, LA chose to incorporate some years ago (for a specific reason). Once their reason/needs had been met they unicorporated and remain unincorporated to this day.

    There are many lessons to be learned from Metairie. They have an excellent working relationship with the Parish and the relationship benefits both Metairie and the Parish.

    It would seem the major difference between Diamondhead and Metairie is that Metairie worked for the benefit of its residents whereas Diamondhead has those people who are driven by their own greed and need for power.

    #3747

    JFlect
    Member

    There are various ways to Unincorporate in Mississippi.
    1. A petition can be initiated similar to the one to Incorporate. You must get 2/3rds of the registered voters and it can not be done for 2 years after incorporation.
    2. (and this would be easier) Each year the City must submit to the Secretary of state a form to stay Incorporated. If we could get our Mayor and councilmen and not submit this form the City would cease to exist.

    #3748

    Eags753
    Member

    The History of the Name “METAIRIE”
    Some explanations of the meaning of the word “Metairie” simply state that Metairie comes from the French word for farm. Actually, the term Metairie is derived from the French word “Moitie” (one-half), and the French term “moitoire” (used in the 12th century feudal days of Europe to describe a particular type of French farming relationship where a landowner would lease a portion of property to a farmer for 50% of the crops or produce grown by the tenant and no money as rent). Over 200 years ago Louisiana’s French heritage established the practice of describing certain farms located on the land created by alluvial deposits of old Metairie Bayou near New Orleans as “Metairie”. Over the past few hundred years, the word Metairie has had different spelling variations including “Maiterie”, “Meteria” and Maitery”. Many years ago, one particular farm owned by the Chain brothers near Bayou Choupic was known as La Metairie. The road which ran along side of Bayou Choupic was commonly referred to as Metairie Road. Over time, the development of this area greatly expanded and the entire expanded area is now known as Metairie. Metairie Road is still one of the main, traditional (slow-2way traffic) arteries which connects Metairie to the City of New Orleans.

    The City of Kenner, one of Louisiana’s largest cities and home of the New Orleans’ Armstrong International Airport (MSY) establishes the western boundary of Metairie. The City of New Orleans establishes the eastern boundary of Metairie. Metairie businesses often use the name “New Orleans” as part of their name. Businesses and people from Metairie often describe themselves as being from New Orleans. Visitors to the City of New Orleans travel through Metairie on Interstate 10 or Veterans Memorial Boulevard, which has become Metairie’s longest and primary commercial boulevard, extending from New Orleans to and through the City of Kenner. Lakeside Shopping Mall, Clearview Shopping Center, and many other malls, shopping centers, restaurants and other commercial businesses are located on Veterans Boulevard.

    METAIRIE TODAY
    Today, the area surrounding Metairie Road is known as “Old Metairie”. Various shops, professional buildings, and shopping centers have developed on Metairie Road, which is one of the most picturesque areas of Metairie. Lakeside Shopping Center, one of Louisiana’s oldest and largest shopping malls, is located on Causeway Boulevard in the heart of Metairie. Metairie’s historical residential base is gradually shifting from a primarily suburban residential community, to various mixed commercial uses including retail malls, shopping centers, office buildings, night clubs and entertainment. Many of Metairie’s night clubs are located in “Fat City”, which was planned and developed as Metairie’s commercial district. The New Orleans Saints offices and practice fields are in Metairie. The New Orleans Zephyrs AAA baseball team maintains its stadium in Metairie. Lexis of New Orleans is in Metairie. Mercedes Benz of New Orleans is located in Metairie. Metairie is similar to New Orleans in many ways, but it is not located in Orleans Parish and it is locally governed by the Council of the Parish of Jefferson, not by a separate city council or police jury.

    ATTENTION BUSINESS OWNERS!
    Add your business listing to Metairie.com

    oops….wrong copy

    #3749

    Eags753
    Member

    About Metairie

    Metairie is the first suburb of New Orleans, one of the oldest cities in the United States. On May 7, 1718, New Orleans was established on the Mississippi River delta as a French colony by the Compagnie du Mississippi. As deposits of sediment and silt built up, the lower Mississippi River has shifted its course to the Gulf of Mexico many times over thousands of years, leaving a high ridge of land where the river’s bank had been previously located known as “Metairie Ridge”. Metairie Ridge was settled by the French in the early1760s before the colony was ceded to the Spain by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. The land remained under Spanish control through 1801, when it came back under French control once again. Napoleon sold the territory to the United States two years later with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Jefferson Parish was officially established as a governmental unit in 1825.

    Parishes (not Counties)
    In western Europe and England, counts and earls (the English equivalent) were noblemen who had jurisdiction over territorial units of land which came to be known as “counties.” The Roman Catholic church separated its territorial units into dioceses administered by bishops. Each diocese is further divided into individual communities called “parishes”, which are staffed by priests. As a consequence of the strong influences of the French and Spanish colonization of Louisiana, the culture and civilian laws of Louisiana are largely based upon the Napoleonic code (the Code civil des Français), and the strong influences of the Roman Catholic church, rather than the English common law that was followed in all the other states. Unlike other states, which are subdivided into “counties”, the state of Louisiana is subdivided into 64 “parishes”.

    Today, Metairie is one of the largest unincorporated communities in the United States and it is the most populated community in Jefferson Parish. With approximately 450,000 residents, more Louisianians now live in Jefferson Parish than any of Louisiana’s other 63 parishes. Like Orleans Parish, Jefferson Parish straddles the Mississippi River and includes towns and cities which are governed by their respective local governments, including the cities of Kenner and Harahan on the east bank, Gretna and Westwego on the west bank, and Grand Isle on the Gulf of Mexico. Metairie is not a city and it has no mayor or local government of its own. As part of Jefferson Parish, Metairie is governed by the Jefferson Parish Council. Metairie Ridge was once incorporated as a city for approximately 17 years in order to allow the area to obtain gas service. In 1927, its one and only Mayor, C.P. Aicklen, arranged for gas service to Metairie. Metairie Ridge was unincorporated less than 18 months later, and Metairie has existed as an unincorporated area (with gas service) ever since. Over 67,000 friendly families or approximately 160,000 people live in Metairie’s five zip codes (70001, 70002, 70003, 70005 and 70006). Metairie, the heart of Jefferson Parish, forms a part of the Greater New Orleans metropolitan area and is technically an unincorporated part of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana.

    The History of the Name “METAIRIE”
    Some explanations of the meaning of the word “Metairie” simply state that Metairie comes from the French word for farm. Actually, the term Metairie is derived from the French word “Moitie” (one-half), and the French term “moitoire” (used in the 12th century feudal days of Europe to describe a particular type of French farming relationship where a landowner would lease a portion of property to a farmer for 50% of the crops or produce grown by the tenant and no money as rent). Over 200 years ago Louisiana’s French heritage established the practice of describing certain farms located on the land created by alluvial deposits of old Metairie Bayou near New Orleans as “Metairie”. Over the past few hundred years, the word Metairie has had different spelling variations including “Maiterie”, “Meteria” and Maitery”. Many years ago, one particular farm owned by the Chain brothers near Bayou Choupic was known as La Metairie. The road which ran along side of Bayou Choupic was commonly referred to as Metairie Road. Over time, the development of this area greatly expanded and the entire expanded area is now known as Metairie. Metairie Road is still one of the main, traditional (slow-2way traffic) arteries which connects Metairie to the City of New Orleans.

    The City of Kenner, one of Louisiana’s largest cities and home of the New Orleans’ Armstrong International Airport (MSY) establishes the western boundary of Metairie. The City of New Orleans establishes the eastern boundary of Metairie. Metairie businesses often use the name “New Orleans” as part of their name. Businesses and people from Metairie often describe themselves as being from New Orleans. Visitors to the City of New Orleans travel through Metairie on Interstate 10 or Veterans Memorial Boulevard, which has become Metairie’s longest and primary commercial boulevard, extending from New Orleans to and through the City of Kenner. Lakeside Shopping Mall, Clearview Shopping Center, and many other malls, shopping centers, restaurants and other commercial businesses are located on Veterans Boulevard.

    METAIRIE TODAY
    Today, the area surrounding Metairie Road is known as “Old Metairie”. Various shops, professional buildings, and shopping centers have developed on Metairie Road, which is one of the most picturesque areas of Metairie. Lakeside Shopping Center, one of Louisiana’s oldest and largest shopping malls, is located on Causeway Boulevard in the heart of Metairie. Metairie’s historical residential base is gradually shifting from a primarily suburban residential community, to various mixed commercial uses including retail malls, shopping centers, office buildings, night clubs and entertainment. Many of Metairie’s night clubs are located in “Fat City”, which was planned and developed as Metairie’s commercial district. The New Orleans Saints offices and practice fields are in Metairie. The New Orleans Zephyrs AAA baseball team maintains its stadium in Metairie. Lexis of New Orleans is in Metairie. Mercedes Benz of New Orleans is located in Metairie. Metairie is similar to New Orleans in many ways, but it is not located in Orleans Parish and it is locally governed by the Council of the Parish of Jefferson, not by a separate city council or police jury.

    This is the one I meant to send regarding Metairie’s incorporation as mentioned above.

    #3750

    ginnylea
    Member

    Your two postings are the most complete history I have read of Metairie.

    What would be most helpful (should we be fortunate enough to follow Metairie’s example and unincorporate is, how do they have such a symbiotic relationship (I realize it developed over time) with the Parish?

    #3751

    Eags753
    Member

    It is only my opinion but I think the citizens of Jefferson Parish were very fortunate to have been served by some really competent educated and responsive officials for a long period of time. Of course there have been exceptions but these exceptions were voted out of office very early. Unfortunately some recent wrongdoings have been alleged and numerous officials are being investigated by federal authorities. I believe these individuals are the exception and not the rule. Jefferson’s growth and economy has been outstanding over the past 30-40 years. Law enforcement, under Sheriff Harry Lee and Al Cronvich was very proficient and effective. The citizens loved Harry Lee and trusted his officers. If you tried to trade the JPSO for a city police department you might have been tarred and feathered (smile). Of course I am a little prejudice because I served as Harry’s Chief Criminal Deputy until 1995. Sheriff Newel Norman seems to be doing a good job as Harry Lee’s replacement. As you know, the sheriffs office in Jefferson performs all police duties and responded to all calls for police services in the unincorporated areas of Jefferson Parish
    and under Louisiana is the chief law enforcement officer and has shared jurisdiction with the municipal police. The Hancock County Sheriff’s Office has (had) full jurisdiction in Diamondhead and was the agency that handled all criminal matter occurring in Diamondhead (just like Jefferson). I thought the HCSO did a good job and personally did not see a reason to change. Diamondhead has the lowest crime rate on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. What were we trying to fix? Why the residences want more taxes and bigger government has always puzzled me. I always thought we were attempting to fix something that was not broken. I think the vote to incorporate was more a vote against the POA than a vote for incorporation. But…that is just my opinion.

    #3754

    Jerry P. Moreau
    Participant

    You are absolutely correct about the vote to incorporate DH. I think many residence voted for Incorporation because as you stated:
    ” I think the vote to incorporate was more a vote against the POA than a vote for incorporation. But…that is just my opinion.”
    When I ran for President of POA in 2008. my platform was “A unified city for DH”. I knew I would not win but the message was to become a city and convey ALL responsibilities of the POA to the city. The current members of the POA are off to a good start by transfer of streets and some property. The biggest problem will be to do the same with the golf courses and country club. POA boards have never been held accountable. I think city officials will be. Let us hope that the POA will eventually be dissolved.

    #3755

    ginnylea
    Member

    I fail to understand your logic. We look to the same pool of people whether it is the POA or the City – why would “Person A” be more competent, etc if he/she were part of City government than if he/she were part of the POA governance?

    Among the problems in the takeover from Purcell to the POA include the inability of many (not all) of the board (then and later) to know the definition of the word “director”. Successful private communities (POA’s) and cities elect people who DIRECT. They set the budget and those other items specifically delineated and the hire a truly competent, qualified, experienced person to be the POA or City MANAGER.

    All too often people who elected people to the POA Board were only concerned with golf courses. Now we have a City that is only concerned with how much money it can get from the government and taxes. I don’t see either approach as healthy.

    #3756

    Eags753
    Member

    Jerry,

    I know you have supported incorporation for a long time. Can you share your thoughts on what advantage you believe the residence will receive as a result of having an incorporated city? Thanks.

    #3773

    Jerry P. Moreau
    Participant

    Bob: Here are my thoughts as to why I favor incorporation.

    “A UNIFIED CITY OF DIAMONDHEAD”
    My proposal is that ALL property and amenities be eventually conveyed to the City of Diamondhead. This will be done in a similar matter that the streets and drainage are now propose in Proposition 1 on the ballot. The entire process may take a few years.
    This of course will eliminate the POA as we know it. Employees would be hired as city workers. The city will now operate the golf courses, tennis courts, recreation centers, parks, marina, airport and even the country club.
    There are two major reasons why the functions of the POA should be “transfered to the City of Diamondhead. Firstly, taxes to the City will be paid to the County Assessor similar to other cities in Hancock County. Unlike dues paid to the POA where an owner of a vacant lot pays the same fee as an owner of a $300,00 home, taxes will be based on the assessed value of property. More importantly, it will become easier to collect taxes from property owners who previously were delinquency in paying POA dues. The County has the means to be more effective in collecting taxes. Secondly, the amenities (particularly the golf courses) have been a major expense for the POA. These are expenses unfairly paid by all property owners but enjoyed by relatively few. A more efficient means of paying for amenities by those who use them would be formulated.
    In time, dues to POA would be eliminated and taxes to property owners may even be reduce as revenue from business sales taxes increase. The possibility of a casino in Diamondhead would be dramatic toward this endeavor.
    Public officials are more easily held accountable for their actions than are volunteers who run a POA. Residents would have a greater voice in the city. To me this is a better alternative than the POA.

    #3774

    ginnylea
    Member

    Jerry, Your vision sounds wonderful, but it leaves a number of unanswered questions. There are always positives and negatives. You have done a good job of presenting the positives.

    A clear and honest look at other communities (whether incorporated as cities or not) should be done in order to know what we might be facing.

    1. The people who pressed for incorporation always compared us to D’Iberville. That is such a wrong comparison – D’Iberville has a much larger tax base than Diamondhead will ever have (even if we had a casino). It took 20 years for them to get the promised police force and they have not been on solid financial ground.
    2. Comparable cities like Pass Christian, Long Beach, Bay St. Louis and Waveland all have much larger tax bases than Diamondhead will ever have. The problems each of those cities have/have had are legendary and too lengthy to enumerate here.
    3. Why are cities unincorporating – and at a faster pace than has been typical? What is causing them to reverse course?
    4. It could be quite helpful and illuminating to understand what happened in Metairie. Oh, we know they incorporated the section known as Metairie Ridge because of their desire and need at the time and as soon as that need was met they unicorporated. Metairie has a very large tax base yet they prefer to operate under Parish (county) government. Why?
    5. There are numerous federal regulations that a city must comply with – and a private community does not. What are these regulations and how will they impact our community both financially and to the quality of life? As an aside, we have already seen the results of what happens when the county treats our swimming pools as public pools and no one would want to experience that again.
    6. There are many property association owned communities in this country – AND – many of them operate very well. Their boards of directors are efficient, etc. Why do they do so well and we don’t?

    As to accountability. It is unlikely the residents of Diamondhead would do any better with a city government than they do with a POA. Elections in small cities, in particular, are most often little more than popularity contests. Since we would be drawing from the same pool of people, would we suddenly start actually vetting our friends and neighbors and actually require proof they are qualified to do what they say they can do?

    I really don’t expect an answer. I have raised these questions and others over the years in public meetings and the usual response is “we’ll answer you at the next meeting”. I’m still waiting.

    #3775

    Eags753
    Member

    Jerry,

    Thank you for your response and sharing your views on incorporation. I do not mean to diminish your opinion and vision for Diamondhead but there are many obstacles and land mines that will have to be overcome to reach that goal. This is the reason I supported a more complete study that would present both the pros and cons of incorporation. The group chosen by the POA to study the matter concluded, on their own, incorporation was the best route for the future. “Informational” meetings were held but was, in my opinion, more of an indoctrination session where a sales pitch was presented in favor of incorporation. Serious questions were asked and referred to an attorney for answers. It was the same attorney used to file and create the city. He was hired to pursue the incorporation and was to receive a fee only if incorporation proceeded. Hardly a person to ask about the downside of incorporation. As Ginnylea pointed out, Diamondhead has no industrial tax base and little businesses tax base. The personnel salaries, health insurance, workers compensation, social security, vacation, sick leave, vehicles, fuel, utilities, street repair, building and vehicle maintenance, etc. etc…. will be borne, mostly, by individuals through a municipal property tax. An option, to be explored, would be to turn everything over to the county if we don’t want a private community any longer. We are already funding our share of the county cost through property taxes and are receiving very little in return. Now we will be asked to fund the cost of salaries, etc. for a city also. When the residents of Diamondhead sit down and begin paying all these cost it will be a wake up call for sure. I do not agree that a city will be able to operate the golf courses, etc. any more efficiently than a POA. You might recall that Edgewater Golf Course in Biloxi was run by the city but because of the losses they closed the course and turned it into a subdivision. New Orleans Firefighters members have filed suit against their investment company because the company invested their retirement fund in two golf courses that went bankrupt. I don’t believe the facilities in Diamondhead will ever show a profit and, if we want them to remain, they will have to be subsidies by tax dollars or residents fee. Of course, this is mostly opinions, both yours and mind,but could have been accurately answered by an unbiased and impartial study. I suspect job creation was a motivation for some supporting incorporation and would have been more convinced of their sincerity if they had pledged to not accept paid positions with the city. I still remain unconvinced that making Diamondhead a city was the best move.

    #3780

    wilkesm
    Member

    Thank you! You are 100% absolutely correct. Most of the POA Directors have had only one agenda…how to keep and maintain "cheap golf fees" for the "country club set". All the while they raised POA monthly fees but never did they raise the annual golf fees for their buddies. Once again, the regular folks are supporting the country club group who will fight for their right to cheap golf as long as they can drive their golf carts!

    #3781

    Mslinzy
    Member

    ginnylea

    Wasn’t long ago if one was interested to move to the coastal area Diamondhead was the place to go. Now, seems a place to run from. I pray things work out for each of you living in Diamondhead.

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