Morris Nicholson told the Lauderdale County School Board he has a commitment from a major retailer to build on Virginia Drive, if the cut-through to the mall property is approved. He declined to name the retailer.
Thursday night, school board attorney John Compton recommended the board take no action at this time.
"The first issue is, Mr. Nicholson has no legal document that I can find that shows that he has any ownership or any agreement with the owner of that property to develop it," said Compto. "And short of that, we don't need to be dealing with Mr. Nicholson until he gets that."
Nicholson refers to the request as his development. But records in the office of the Tax Assessor show the property is actually owned by attorney Dennis Goldman.
The mall rests on 16th section land, which is dedicated as a revenue source for school districts. Compton said he studied the development agreements of 1995 and 1997 before making his decision.
"And any substantial change has to be approved by CBL, Lowe's Limited, which is a partnership which has an interest out there, Bonita Lakes Mall Limited Partnership, McRae's, Sears, Dillard's, Penney's and the school board. So until all parties, about seven parties, are in agreement, we can't do anything," Compton said.
If they did, he told the school board, they would likely be in a lawsuit with CBL and the others. The discussion eventually became heated.
"You know I've got the right to develop the property," Nicholson said to Compton. "You know I'm not that big a fool to be standing up here."
After all was said, the school board accepted its attorney's advice and declined to take action on Nicholson's request.