County supervisors call for investigation into City of Madison - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

County supervisors call for investigation into City of Madison

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By Monica Hernandez - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -  An empty field, and future home of a church, has become the center of a Madison County controversy.

"This appears to be illegal. This appears to be extortion of a landowner," said Tim Johnson, president of the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors said the City of Madison agreed to rezone 40 acres of land so it could be sold to Pinelake Church only after landowner Richard Skinner agreed to put up $400,000. The money would go to improve recently Phase II of Reunion Parkway, which was recently annexed into the City of Madison.

Now, supervisors are asking officials to investigate.

"The City of Madison needs to give back this man and his family $400,000 from the sale of this property," said Johnson.

The land is located on Phase I of Reunion Parkway, near Madison Station Elementary. Reunion Parkway is located between Bozeman Road and Highway 463 in Madison.

According to the agreement signed in November by Skinner and Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler, the city would use Skinner's money only if the county doesn't finish the road project it started years ago.

"The city said, 'We can't allow anything to go forward until we figure out how this road's going to be finished.' Mr. Skinner is the one who came to the mayor and said, 'I will put up the money to guarantee it is going to be finished so I can go ahead with my project,'" said Madison City Attorney John Hedglin.

The county's call for an investigation comes after Hawkins Butler asked the state auditor to investigate county engineer Rudy Warnock.

"This has nothing to do with roads. This is a way to cause a diversion from what's really going on in Madison County," said Hawkins Butler.

WLBT's calls to Skinner have not been returned.

Meanwhile, county administrator Mark Houston announced that he'll be stepping down. After four months in office, he said he got a job offer in the private sector.

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