Lange v. City of Batesville, 2001-CA-01089-COA.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Citation832 So.2d 1236
Docket NumberNo. 2001-CA-01089-COA.,2001-CA-01089-COA.
PartiesJulia W. LANGE, David L. Lange, James S. Whitaker, Jr. and James S. Whitaker, Sr., Appellants, v. The CITY OF BATESVILLE, Appellee.
Decision Date03 September 2002

832 So.2d 1236

Julia W. LANGE, David L. Lange, James S. Whitaker, Jr. and James S. Whitaker, Sr., Appellants,

No. 2001-CA-01089-COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

September 3, 2002.

Pope Shannon Mallette, Oxford, Donna L. Gurley, attorneys for appellants.

832 So.2d 1237
Benjamin E. Griffith, Cleveland, attorney for appellee


SOUTHWICK, P.J., for the court.

¶ 1. Panola County entered into a development agreement with several landowners. Included was an obligation under certain contingencies to build a public road. The City of Batesville later assumed the County's obligations under the agreement. The landowners are here asserting that the City's failure so far to build the road is a breach of the agreement. We find that since the agreement had no definite time requirement for the construction of the road, that the landowners have not shown that there has yet been a breach. We affirm the lower court's judgment.


¶ 2. Panola County developed plans for construction of an arena on property east of Interstate 55 and south of Highway 6 East in Batesville, Mississippi. The County's architect, the Warrior Group, LTD, prepared drawings for what was called the "Arena Project." Those drawings included both the layout of the buildings to be constructed as well as parking lots and a five-lane road leading from the project and intersecting with Highway 6. Also included was a topographical map detailing the extent to which certain portions of the property would be leveled.

¶ 3. On July 31, 1996, Panola County entered into an agreement for a temporary easement with James Whitaker, Sr., James Whitaker, Jr., and David and Julia Lange (collectively referred to here as "the Whitakers"). The Whitakers granted to Panola County "a temporary right of entry and temporary easement" to a certain parcel of property which was to the east of the Arena Project property. The Whitaker property and the Arena Project property shared a common boundary. The temporary easement allowed Panola County to enter the Whitaker property for the purpose of removing 70,000 cubic yards of dirt. The project ultimately required 100,000 cubic yards of dirt. Once the removal was complete, the easement and right of entry would terminate.

¶ 4. Several conditions were placed upon the grant of the easement. The condition which is the subject of this litigation reads as follows:

The Grantee [County] has plans to build an expo center and is about to embark upon Phase I thereof. If the Grantee commences Phase 2 of such project within two (2) years of the date hereof, then the Grantors [the Whitakers] agree to dedicate to the county such part of the above described 5.47 acres as may be needed for a public road. If Phase 2 is not commenced within two (2) years but the County has evidenced good faith to commence same within a reasonable period of time, then the Grantors agree to extend the aforesaid two (2) year period for a reasonable time.

The County also agreed to transfer to the Whitakers a .11 acre parcel of property to the east of the road, but only if a road was built.

¶ 5. The County later determined that it did not have the financial resources to continue with the Arena Project. The County began negotiations for transferring ownership to and completing the project by the City of Batesville. The County, in

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a letter dated August 3, 1998, requested that the negotiations include a promise by the City to honor the agreement it had entered with the Whitakers concerning the possible construction of a public road

¶ 6. The County and City signed an agreement on June 16, 1999. The City agreed to complete only Phase I of the Arena Project. The agreement specifically stated that Phase I consisted solely "of the construction of a Stall barn and Multi-Plex Arena." The agreement referred to the plans drawn by the Warrior Group, LTD. The City specifically refused to agree to the construction of any other parts of the project shown on those plans. The City also specifically agreed to "honor the Agreement for Temporary Easement between the County and James S. Whitaker et al dated July 31, 1996...." A copy of the temporary easement was attached to the agreement.

¶ 7. While the Arena Project was proceeding, a new hospital was constructed on property located west of it. Also proposed was the construction of Wal-Mart Super Center between Interstate 55 and the new hospital. For clarity, we note that the Whitaker property was to the east of the Arena Project, while both the hospital and the Wal-Mart store were to the west. All these projects were south of the major west-east road, which was Highway 6.

¶ 8. At a February 18, 2000 meeting of the Board of Alderman for the City, discussion turned to the Arena Project. The minutes note that the "need and placement of roads in the area was also discussed." The minutes note that "Whitaker Road is to be a five lane road." Presumably, this is a reference to the five-lane public road shown on the plans prepared by the Warrior Group, LTD, and the public road that was to be constructed should Phase 2 of the Arena Project commence.

¶ 9. At a May 2, 2000 meeting, the minutes show that the assistant city attorney was authorized by the Board "to draw up appropriate documents to move forward on the agreement between the County and Mr. Whitaker that the City has agreed to honor." A memorandum provided to the Whitakers requested that they sign and have notarized a deed to the City "in fulfillment of [the] agreement with the County." On May 23, 2000, the Whitakers executed a deed donating to the City 4.81 acres of property for the proposed road. The deed did not include specifications for the road such as how many lanes the road might be or when its construction would...

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  • Lange v. City of Batesville
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • January 8, 2008
    ...HISTORY ¶ 2. With the current appeal, the parties find themselves before this Court for the second time. See Lange v. City of Batesville, 832 So.2d 1236 (Miss.Ct.App.2002) (Lange I). As a majority of the underlying facts relevant to the current review were previously stated in sufficient de......

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