Pontotoc County commissioners were set to go into executive session at Tuesday’s meeting, but a legal technicality nullified the need for such a session in dealing with the ongoing feud between the county and landowner Nathan Dial over desired zoning changes.
After consulting with Dial’s attorney, District Attorney Chris Ross told the commissioners there was no need to discuss Dial’s pending lawsuit with the county, at least not yet.
Although the Ada City Council agenda called for the possible annexation of property Tuesday evening — annexation that included the boundaries Dial has been trying for years to get rezoned for C-2 commercial use — a glitch may have made that vote impossible.
“It is our understanding in talking with Frank Stout (the Ada city attorney) on two occasions that the annexation would not be voted on Tuesday,” said Dial’s attorney, Jack Cadenhead.
“They (the city council) will have to set a new hearing date and republish the notice in the newspaper,” he said. “Annexation would have to be no earlier than 14 days (from that point) and no later than 30 days after publication of the notice of a hearing on the proposed annexation.”
The problem with the first notice announcing Tuesday’s hearing was a legal defect.
What was wrong with it?
“They put the wrong section number (on that property),” Cadenhead said. “It should have read Section 15. However, it read Section 14.
“They made a mistake,” he said. “I called it to Mr. Stout’s attention last Thursday. He agreed it was a mistake.
“It is our understanding it won’t go through tonight (Tuesday), so we were fine with striking our suit from the (county) agenda.”
Political winds can prove unpredictable, but this delay could play into Dial’s favor though no one was willing to go on record with a prediction. The earliest the city could vote for annexation will be the middle of February.
The county, which has voted against the zoning change in the past even when it was recommended by the Ada Metropolitan Area Planning and Zoning on two of three occasions, will be able to take up the matter again on Feb. 4.
In effect, it could mean the county will get a chance to make a decision on the zoning change before the city has a chance to get the land annexed into the city.
Had the city been able to vote for annexation Tuesday, it would have taken the power of zoning this land out of the hands of the county commissioners.
The item remained on the agenda for the city going into Tuesday’s meeting, but Cadenhead said the issue likely would not be addressed.
If that holds up at the city council meeting, the county will get to vote on the issue first.
The reason that could be significant is because there’s been a change at the commission table since the last time the commissioners voted against approving the zoning change by a 2-1 vote with District 3 Commissioner Justin Roberts voting in favor of the change.
With former County Commissioner Danny Davis having lost his seat in last August’s runoff election to Randy Floyd, the balance of power may have shifted from 1-2 opposed to the zoning change to 2-1 in favor of it. Floyd has indicated he would vote in favor of the zoning change.
If so, a three-year fight by Dial to get the zoning changed from residential to commercial could come to fruition.
Had the executive session gone off as planned Tuesday morning, the voting change could have resulted then, but everyone seemed to agree there was no reason to address Dial’s lawsuit against the county prior to the city council meeting.