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Port Commission gains approval to sell land in Ceres

The Warren County Board of Supervisor approved the Port Commission to begin negotiating the sale of an 11-acre track of land at the Ceres Industrial Park on which a planned truck stop would be built.

The motion passed 4-1 with District 2 Supervisor William Banks casting the lone dissenting vote.

The board authorized the Port Commission to negotiate a sale price of $25,000 per acre following three appraisals of the property.

“There were three different appraisals that were done,” economic development director Pablo Diaz said. “One of them yielded a price bracket of $25,000, a second one a price bracket of $22,727 and a third a price bracket of $65,000 per acre.”

Diaz said the outlier of the three appraisals was due to the property comparisons used by the appraiser.

“The first appraisal, they included a lot of properties in Columbus, Tupelo and also in the metro area in Jackson and those were highly developed travel centers,” Diaz said. “I saw some values in there of $125,000 an acre.”

The Port Commission previously voted to approve the sale of the land to Terra Holdings, LLC, which owns Sprint Mart Stores in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama at the price of $275,000 pending the Board of Supervisor’s approval.

The truck stop will be located near the Flowers exit on Interstate 20 westbound, and will have restrooms, a convenience store and possibly restaurants along with parking for semi-trucks.

Banks said that he voted against the proposal because they have been “having discussion about this over a year and half,” and he felt it should have been brought to the board before a decision was made.

At their meeting Monday, the supervisors also approved the acceptance of a 53-acre tract of land adjacent to Ceres, pending the completion of a Phase 1 Environmental report. Peter Buford is donating the land to the county.

“He showed me the preliminary work and I made it clear that it has to be a full phase,” Diaz said. “We would not recommend you all do anything, but that.”

Under the agreement, Buford will pay for the environmental report to be completed.

Diaz said that the land is not developable and the only use is to provide a buffer for the industrial park.

“The terrain is not something you are going to fill with dirt and put a site there,” Diaz said. “The presence of wetlands I think is obvious because there is a pond in there.”