City, lumber company reach well deal

Published 6:10 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brookhaven leaders and Rex Lumber Companyofficials have reached an agreement that will allow the company toapply for a permit to re-open an existing well on the property andalso allow the city to collect revenue on water usage after ameeting Monday night.

Following several days of negotiations, theboard of aldermen action brings a resolution to major stickingpoints in the discussions between the city and company, the mainone being the issue of water wells. The resolution also clears theway for about 118 jobs for the Brookhaven area.

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The resolution of intent, which the boardapproved unanimously, allows for Rex to file for a well use permitfor one of the two inactive water wells on their property.

The measure points out that the wells predatethe municipal ordinance against companies having their own waterwells separate from the city’s water system. However, theresolution maintains the wells still come under the ordinance sincethey had been abandoned by a previous owner.

If the well passes the permitting process, itcan be reopened and Rex will pay the city $200 per month, with thecity maintaining the right to enter the property to inspect thewell at any time.

“I think through this process we haverecognized Rex Lumber Company may have some rights to re-drill thewell in question, but we also recognize that we have rights topermit, limit and restrict their usage of the water from the well,”said Mayor Les Bumgarner. “We hope this agreement will lead to along-lasting and successful relationship with the city ofBrookhaven and Rex Lumber Company.”

Aldermen discussed the number of jobs that RexLumber will bring in, stating that it could be as many as 103 inthe next five years.

Rex General Manager Doug Boykin told the boardthe investment for the first year would be at least $10 million,with another $15 million to $20 million to come in a three-yearperiod. Great Southern Wood Preserving, which is a separate companyfrom Rex Lumber but would be working closely in production withthem on the same property, will bring in another 15 or so jobs aswell.

“I just want to thank everyone for their workand insight into making this happen, and their help in getting thisdone,” said Boykin, speaking on behalf of Rex Lumber.

The board also amended water rates over682,000 gallons, charging $1,501.05 per month until one milliongallons. This will help with GSWP as well, officials said.

GSWP had requested permission to drill anon-potable well, but Brookhaven has an ordinance against companiesdrilling private wells inside the city. City Attorney Joe Fernaldsaid the new water rates should keep things uniform for GSWP as faras monthly payments, but stressed that the new rates apply acrossthe board and not just to any one company or industry.

In other related matters Monday, the cityagreed to reopen the road on the site, which was closed whileColumbus Lumber Company was in business. Bumgarner said Brookhavenofficials will apply for grants to help in repairing the road tobring it back up to satisfactory conditions.

City Clerk Mike Jinks pointed out that Rex’srequest to deed the road back to the city will help in obtainingthe grants. However, officials also held that if there was nofunding available for the road and if Rex is still receiving taxabatements in an eight-year period of time, the lumber companywould be asked to chip in on costs for maintaining the road.

Meanwhile, the city will extend requested taxbenefits to Rex for at least five years, such as the free portexemption and the new enterprise exemption. However, the company isnot exempt from paying any taxes to the Brookhaven SchoolDistrict.

City and Rex officials both agreed they wereleaving the meeting happy. Bumgarner pointed out that Brookhaven ison a positive trend and that he hoped it would continue.

“In coaching, winning solves all problems, andin government, creating jobs is the single most important factor inthe problem solving process,” he said Monday. “Yesterday the Saintswon, today we signed an agreement with a great company – Rex LumberCompany. And tomorrow we will go to Jackson and meet with theMississippi Legislature, put our best foot forward and try to keepthe Mississippi School of Arts in Brookhaven.”