Lawson files suit against supervisors
by Chance Wright
Sep 19, 2012 | 2135 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After receiving a receiving a letter, dated Sept. 5 and signed by county attorney Linda F. Coleman, advising him of the Bolivar County Board of Supervisor's decision to rescind its former action granting him a variance to rebuild his commercial structure, located at 407 Old U.S. Highway 61 in Choctaw, Alfonzo Lawson filed a civil suit against the board.

On Aug. 6, supervisors voted 4-1 to waive the decision of the county building code enforcer and the Bolivar County Planning Commission and allow Lawson to begin rebuilding according to Miss. Code 11-51-75.

Lawson's business in question, which was a nightclub/bar/convenience store, was completely destroyed by a fire in early July.

After that Aug. 6 decision by the board, some residents of the Choctaw community immediately began voicing their concerns and the board invited them to attend the board's next meeting held that Wednesday.

During that meeting, the residents informed the board that on multiple occasions, spanning the past several years, patrons of Lawson 's club have inadvertently disobeyed county laws and disrespected the people of Choctaw.

The following Monday, Aug. 13, Choctaw residents Dennis and Sammye Short were served a warrant for their arrests at around 5 p.m. charged with trespassing on Lawson's property.

Then on Sept. 4 a Bill of Exceptions was filed with the court on behalf of the Choctaw residents, which included the Shorts.

On Thursday, Sept. 13, a Bill of Exceptions was filed in the Circuit Court of Bolivar County, Second Judicial District, on behalf of Lawson by his attorney Aelicia L. Thomas.

The objective of a bill of exceptions is to put the question of law on record. It is an older legal method of questioning the proper procedure used by civic organizations and governments.

In the bill filed on Lawson's behalf, Thomas lists multiple errors allegedly made by the board in their rescindment of their initial Aug. 6 decision to allow Lawson to immediately begin rebuilding.

"Based on the factors delineated by the due process requirements set forth under Mississippi law, the decision of the board to rescind its exception/variance given to Lawson was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, illegal, and/or not supported by the evidence," said Thomas in the filing.

"The board considered evidence (the appeal by a few residents) which was inappropriate and resulted in a decision which was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, illegal, and/or not supported by the evidence," continued Thomas in the bill.

"The board finding that Lawson failed to comply with Bolivar County Development Code was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, illegal, and/or not supported by the evidence."

The other alleged errors lined out in the Bill of Exceptions are as follows.

"The Board's decision to disregard providing due process notice to Lawson was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, illegal, and/or not supported by the evidence."

"The board's decision to allow the designation of the subject property to remain in effect knowing it to have been classified in error was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, illegal, and/or not supported by the evidence."

"The Board's decision to re-designate the subject area was arbitrary, capricious, discriminatory, illegal, and/or not supported by the evidence."

Attempts to contact Board President Andrew Williams went unanswered.

The Bolivar Commercial will continue to follow these cases and report on them as they unfold.