Nicholson Pushes for Access

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Morris Nicholson has repeatedly appeared before the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors seeking help in obtaining access to the ring road around Bonita Lakes Mall, by cutting through from Virginia Drive. He said it would lead to new retail development on Virginia Drive.

Attorney Rick Barry reminded him the property is managed by the school board.

"You know they control the 16th section land and they have the right to grant access or not grant the access," said Barry.

"All I'm asking for, if they can't see to grant that right. then your board will have to take over," said Nicholson.

The supervisors tossed the ball to the school board Monday.

"The motion is, as I understand it, that we show support in favor of Mr. Nicholson's project to the school, if Mr. Nicholson will convey the property or allow the property to be part of the city, and if the school board deems this a viable project," said board president, Craig Hitt.

Research of county tax records by NewsCenter 11, however, revealed Nicholson does not own the property. It is actually owned by attorney Dennis Goldman, who did not appear at the meeting.

Later, Wade Jones, President of the East Mississippi Business development Corporation, said he had discussed the matter with CBL officials.

"We have visited with CBL Associates by telephone, inquired about their interest in breaking the ring road. They would object to this," said Jones.

NewsCenter 11 also talked to CBL Vice President Ron Gimpel, who said he and the tenants would resort to legal action, if necessary, to prevent a cut-through to the ring road.

Lauderdale County school board attorney John Compton said the issue may be decided at its June 19 meeting.

"Morris Nicholson came to the board at the May regular meeting and I informed the board at that point that there were documents that I needed to review and I would come back to them with a report at the June meeting," said Compton, "and I have been doing that."

Compton said he will present the board with a recommendation at that time.