The mayor and Board of Aldermen are looking at adding to the city by annexing land to the east, something the city tried to tackle in 2009.
Mayor Shea Dobson said there have been no formal meetings or a committee formed, but he said he and aldermen have talked about the idea.
“We’re very serious about exploring our options before we go forward,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s OK with the people we affect.”
So far, he said, the idea still is to go east to Mississippi 57, then north to just past Interstate 10, south to include the Ocean Springs High School and also take in all of Ocean Springs Road.
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He said he and the aldermen are “tossing around ideas” and getting with the city attorney about the legal details.
“We don’t want to go unless we’re ready,” Dobson said.
Most of the board seems to want to pursue it, one alderman said.
He said the city is growing everywhere, but east Ocean Springs is open for development.
“We hear there’s a lot of support out there,” Dobson said.
Dobson said he thinks the time is right, but he doesn’t see the city moving aggressively. He told the Sun Herald he doesn’t see it taking any action this year.
Money is an issue as well.
“We want to make sure the numbers make sense,” he said, looking at the tax money brought in versus the cost of providing services to the area.
He said the old annexation plans would be like a blueprint that they could work from, but the lines could be flexible.
In 2009, the city proposed annexing 12 square miles that included 1,500 residents, Jackson County’s Sunplex Industrial Park and the Preserve golf course, which was several miles north of I-10.
It failed in the years after for several reasons, not the least of them opposition from Jackson County supervisors. Supervisor John McKay didn’t want Ocean Springs taking the Sunplex Industrial Park or “marching” too far up Mississippi 57. At that time, he suggested the Coca-Cola plant was far enough.
Ocean Springs didn’t want a costly court battle with the county.
In 2014, the city heard again a report on revenue that would be generated if the city decided to move forward with annexing east. Aldermen at that time wanted to know if the numbers from both sides — property taxes generated and cost to maintain a larger Ocean Springs — would work out to the city’s advantage.
More recently, Alderman Matt McDonnell, on his way out of office, said one of his regrets was that the city never annexed north along North Washington Avenue, an area that has thrived and become the gateway to Biloxi’s casino row.