OCEAN SPRINGS -- The city has begun an annexation study to consider moving the city's borders east to Mississippi 57 and north to above Interstate 10, Mayor Connie Moran told a crowd of Ocean Springs business men and women Wednesday morning.
"It's certainly time to consider that," she said.
The city has hired Slaughter and Associates from Oxford to begin the first phase of a study to see if the cost of moving the city's boundary would be supported by the property tax revenue that would be brought in.
She said the Board of Aldermen is scheduled to meet in executive session with Slaughter before the next regular meeting of the board, in the first week of March.
Ocean Springs was moving toward annexation to the east several years ago until the economic slump gave the Board of Aldermen cold feet, she said.
The new area under consideration goes north of The Shed restaurant at Mississippi 57 and I-10 and south to areas around Old Spanish Trail, but not taking in any of the large subdivision of south Jackson County.
She said the city needs more undeveloped land and gave an example of an industry that recently approached her about locating in the city. She said an "international" heavy industry that she considered green, because it claims few emissions, was looking at Ocean Springs and Jackson County. She said it would have brought in 1,000 jobs at an average salary of $85,000. But there just wasn't enough room, not even at the county's Sunplex Industrial Park.
Jackson County Economic Development Foundation Director George Freeland later said he believes the prospect she was referring to looked at the area briefly and was just in the proposal category.
But Moran used it as an example of what the city could attract with room and the reputation of having a well-educated, healthy, skilled work force.
Moran said that before, the city dropped the idea of annexation partly because the cost of maintaining the area and providing services was too costly. She said, however, that since then, the city has acquired machinery and equipment with BP oil-spill money that would help ease some of those concerns.
She said the city has already secured an agreement with Gautier that it would not fight the move and negotiated with the county volunteer fire departments in the area.
The next phase will be to consider the cost, she said.