Three NE Miss. counties begin Wellspring property purchase

Published 8:36 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Pontotoc, Union and Lee counties will begin buying property for Wellspring, the 1,700-acre industrial megasite on U.S. 78 near Blue Springs in Union County.

Boards of supervisors in the three counties on Monday voted to begin the land purchase.

Randy Kelley, executive director of Three Rivers Planning and Development District, said the action “puts us one step closer to buying the land.” Three Rivers is helping develop the site.

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Options on the land were to begin running out this week. PUL Alliance officials could either let the options expire, renew them or try to buy the land as the options came due. An option is a contract that gives its owner the right but not the obligation, to either buy or sell assets for a period of time.

The PUL Alliance is made up of development and political leaders from the three counties. They have worked to recruit a major industry, such as an automobile manufacturer, to the site.

In Lee County, $80,000 had been set aside in the budget for the Wellspring land purchase, said County Administrator Ronnie Bell.

Twenty-two landowners have options on their land, which is priced at about $6,800 per acre.

To help buy the land, Kelley said, Three Rivers has two long-term financing proposals, with a short-term financing package coming “from a consortium of local banks.”

The 2006 Legislature failed to provide state money to help develop the site. Some lawmakers and Gov. Haley Barbour argued the state shouldn’t spend money on site preparation without a commitment from a company.