- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

PURVIS, Miss. (AP) - If the push to incorporate Bellevue is successful, several businesses on U.S. 98 would become part of that proposed city.

As can be expected, the owners have differing opinions on being included in what would be Lamar County’s fifth city.

Some, like Forrest Roberts, aren’t taking sides one way or the other.

Roberts, who owns all the area Corner Market locations including the location in the Bellevue community, tells The Hattiesburg American (https://hatne.ws/1LDCr4s) he’ll support either side.

“I live in the city (Hattiesburg), so I’m indifferent,” said Roberts. “I’ll support either side - I have no opinion. I’m for what the citizens vote for.”

Other business owners in the area are much more adamant on the subject.

“I’m for Bellevue,” said Melvin Stafford, owner of Belleco Home Center on U.S. 98. “If it’s going to be Hattiesburg or Bellevue, I’d rather it be Bellevue.”

The move to incorporate began officially in late August, after a Lamar County Board of Supervisors’ meeting during which the Citizens of Bellevue group made a presentation outlining the details and benefits of the proposed city. If incorporated, Bellevue would span about 15 square miles with an initial population of 5,000 to 10,000.

The Citizens of Bellevue group currently is working to gather on a petition the signatures of two-thirds of the registered voters in the Bellevue community. That document must then be filed in chancery court, per incorporation procedures.

In addition to Corner Market and Belleco Home Center, the city would include businesses such as CVS Pharmacy, Citizens Bank, Merit Health Medical Group’s Primary Care Clinic and the Hattiesburg Clinic-Bellevue facility.

For Patricia Nelson and her husband, Mark, who own Nelson Touchstone PLLC in Bellegrass, incorporation is an opportunity to improve the business scene in the community they have lived in for the last several years.

“I just feel like if the city is incorporated, there’s going to be so much more done to keep it to where the zoning is done right, where it can be beautiful and developed well,” said Patricia Nelson, who also is a Bellevue alderwoman-select. “It will keep the property values up, and it will attract more commercial growth in this area.

If Bellevue is incorporated, officials expect business and property owners to see an ad valorem tax increase, in the form of an additional 30-40 mills. That means the owner of a $100,000 property would pay an additional $300-$400 a year.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com


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