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Board approves permit for hotel work restart

Brookhaven aldermen have approved adiscounted building permit to continue construction on a stalledhotel project and have selected Williford, Gearhart & Knight(WGK) as the engineer on a project that could bring a new industryto the city.

    The board met Tuesday night in a recess meeting to finish up somematters from the Nov. 15 meeting.

    The board took action on a permit issue and hopes the haltedconstruction of a hotel on Brookway Boulevard near Exit 40 will nowcontinue.

    Jackie’s International, Inc. owns the Lincoln Inn and Suites and in2008 began work next to the Lincoln Inn on what was to be a HolidayInn Express. However, work stopped in the fall of 2009 and anunfinished building frame has occupied the site since.

    In 2008, Jackie’s International purchased a permit for a $3 millionproject, at a cost of $6,600. The permit has since expired.

    Now, Jackie’s International Vice President Sunny Sethi hasrequested the permit be renewed at a lower price.

    According to Mayor Les Bumgarner, $1.75 million of the project hasbeen completed. Sethi wishes the renewed permit be issued for theremaining $1.25 million rather than the total $3 million.

    “You ought to give someone credit for what they’ve invested,”Bumgarner said.

    City Attorney Joe Fernald contacted the state auditor’s office andreported that the reduction is legal.

    After minimal discussion that saw the aldermen in agreement, theboard approved that the renewed permit be granted for the remaining$1.25 million, which will cost $2,500.

    “This really didn’t need to be before the board,” said Ward FiveAlderman D.W. Maxwell. “This should have just been handled in thebuilding inspector’s office.”

    Sethi has also in recent months requested several other incentives,including a tax abatement, which the project did not qualifyfor.

    Aldermen also approved WGK as the engineer on a CommunityDevelopment Block Grant (CDBG) project that could bring a newindustry to Brookhaven, and new jobs with it.

    “If it came, it would bring 25 good-paying jobs with the potentialof up to 50 in the future,” said the mayor.

    Bumgarner said he has been working on the project for about ayear.

    “The finalists were St. Louis, Mo., and us,” the mayor said, ofpotential sites for the industry. “The Mississippi DevelopmentAuthority and CDBDG made them some great incentives to relocate inBrookhaven.”

    According to Bumgarner, the incentive package totals about $1.5million.

    Pickering, Dungan and WGK were the three bidders for theproject.

    “This involves a spur and rail repair which was the leverage forWGK,” said Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes, who chaired acommittee that selected WGK.

    Estes said WGK has more experience with rail projects than thecompetitors.

    “Rail is very, very important for this project,” Bumgarnersaid.

    Maxwell requested more information on the project, but Bumgarnersaid he was not at liberty to reveal much information.

    After the meeting, Bumgarner said he does not know when anannouncement can be made about the industry.

    A proposal by Maxwell near the end of the meeting prompted the mostanimated discussion of the evening.

    Maxwell attempted to submit an expense report of $32.57, the totalprice of a lunch Maxwell, Estes and Ward Two Alderman Terry Bateshad in the month of October.

    Maxwell, Estes and Bates were on a committee appointed by the mayorto propose a full smoke-free ordinance, and the meal occurredduring a committee meeting.

    “We had lunch and it was suggested since we were doing citybusiness it could be reimbursed,” Maxwell said.

    Alderman at Large Karen Sullivan reacted negatively.

    “You are starting something if you do this,” Sullivan said.

    Sullivan then went on list recent lunches she has had whileperforming city businesses and stated she would request those bereimbursed if Maxwell’s request was approved.

    Ward Three Alderman Mary Wilson concurred.

    “We use our gas doing city business, are we going to pay for that?”she said.

    Maxwell subsequently withdrew his request and did not put thematter to a full vote.