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Lowndes Cnty. v. McClanahan

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

April 23, 2015

LOWNDES COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI BY AND THROUGH ITS BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
v.
HAL H.H. MCCLANAHAN, III, MCCLANAHAN CAMP, LLC, JULIE GARTMAN AND DENNIS GARTMAN

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LOWNDES COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/04/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. HENRY L. LACKEY.

FOR APPELLANT: TIMOTHY C. HUDSON.

FOR APPELLEE: HAL H. H. McCLANAHAN, III.

OPINION

Page 1053

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI

DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶1. After the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors voted to abandon a railroad crossing, the county erected a barricade. Residents affected by the barricade filed two separate motions for reconsideration, and the Board held a second meeting in which it affirmed the abandonment but ordered the barricade removed. The residents filed a bill of exceptions in the circuit court, which reversed the Board's decision to abandon the crossing. The Court of Appeals reversed the circuit court, holding it had no jurisdiction to hear the bill of exceptions. We find that, although the circuit court had appellate jurisdiction to

Page 1054

review the Board's second decision, it lacked jurisdiction to consider the Board's original decision. So we reverse the judgments of the Court of Appeals and the circuit court, and we remand this case for the circuit court to consider only whether the Board's second order complied with the statutory procedure for abandoning a road.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶2. On September 15, 2011, C& G Railroad requested that the Board hold a public hearing about abandoning a road known as Co-Op Road, which crossed two sets of its railroad tracks. Following the meeting, the Board publicized its intent to abandon the road and crossing by placing a small ad in the middle of The Columbus Dispatch 's legal notices section for three consecutive weeks. This was a departure from the Board's usual custom of placing large advertisements when meeting to discuss county road abandonments and other closures.

¶3. On October 31, the Board considered whether to abandon the crossing. None of the residents who owned land near the crossing or who regularly used the crossing was in attendance at the meeting. Hearing no opposition, the Board resolved to abandon the crossing, finding that the crossing " serve[d] only one land-owner [i.e., the railroad] who has requested abandonment of the road."

¶4. Nearly a month later--after the county barricaded the crossing--residents affected by the abandonment learned of the Board's action. On November 30, the residents filed two separate motions for reconsideration with the Board. The residents then appeared at the Board's December 5 meeting, where the Board stayed consideration of the residents' motions for reconsideration and encouraged the residents to work with the railroad to resolve the dispute about the crossing. But discussions proved fruitless, and the sides were unable to reach an agreement.

¶5. On February 3, 2012, the residents filed a joint amended motion for reconsideration, asking that the Board revisit its October 31 order at the next Board meeting scheduled for February 6. The Board revisited its prior decision and issued a new order, reaffirming its decision to abandon the crossing, but ordering the barricade removed and posted signs indicating that the county no longer maintained the crossing. On February 16, the residents filed a bill of exceptions in Lowndes County Circuit Court, challenging both the October 31, 2011, order and the February 6, 2012, order. The ...


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