MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2007 Regular Session

To: Public Property; Appropriations

By: Representative Weathersby

House Bill 1185

(As Sent to Governor)

AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, ACTING ON BEHALF OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, TO LEASE FOR A CERTAIN NUMBER OF YEARS THE PROPERTY FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE "OLD SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND" WHICH IS LOCATED NORTH OF EASTOVER DRIVE IN THE CITY OF JACKSON, HINDS COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI; TO REQUIRE THE PROPERTY TO BE LEASED FOR PRIVATE REDEVELOPMENT RESULTING IN ITS HIGHEST AND BEST USE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE RENEWAL OF RESIDENTIAL AND NONRESIDENTIAL PROPERTY LEASES; TO AMEND SECTIONS 27-33-17 AND 27-33-19, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ALLOW HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR PERSONS WHO SUBLEASE SUCH LAND FROM THE LESSEE AND OCCUPIES AND USES THE PROPERTY AS A HOME; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. (1) Acting on behalf of the Department of Education, the Mississippi Development Authority, with the approval of the Secretary of State, is authorized to lease for a period not to exceed sixty (60) years with an option to renew not to exceed twenty (20) years all of the land, formerly known as the "Old School for the Blind," located north of Eastover Drive in the City of Jackson, Hinds County, Mississippi, and more particularly described as follows:

Starting at a concrete monument that is the SE corner of the SW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 24, T6N, R1E in the First Judicial District, Hinds County, Mississippi, run thence N 00-01' E along the line between the E 1/2 and the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 24, T6N, R1E for a distance of 194.40 feet to a point on the north line of Eastover Drive, as said drive is now laid out and improved, the point of beginning.

Run thence N 56-46' W along said north line of said Eastover Drive for a distance of 3.02 feet to the P.C. of a curve to the left with a radius (chord) of 5769.65 feet (angle of curve was omitted, 04-00'-0r"); Run thence along said curve and said north line of Eastover Drive for a distance of 402.91 feet to the P.T. of said curve; Run thence N 60-46' W along said north line of said Eastover Drive for a distance of 684.92 feet to a point on the east right-of-way line of U.S. Highway No. 51, as said highway is now laid out and improved, Run thence N 29-14' E along said east right-of-way line of U.S. Highway No. 51 for a distance of 1422.24 feet to a point; Run thence N 87-06' E for a distance of 251.28 feet to a point on the line between the E 1/2 and the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 24, T6N, R1E, and also being a point on the south line of share 1 of the Mosal partition; Run thence S 00-01' W along said line between the E 1/2 and the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 24, T6N, R1E for a distance of 1796.17 feet to the point of beginning.

All the above described land being situated in the W 1/2 of the SW 1/4 of Section 24, T6N, R1E in the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, and being wholly within the corporate limits of the City of Jackson and containing 22.822 acres.

(2) (a) The property described in subsection (1) shall be leased for private redevelopment to result in the highest and best use as determined by the Mississippi Development Authority and to ensure that the property is used in a manner that will not interfere with the operation of the Mississippi School for the Blind or the Mississippi School for the Deaf; provided that such redevelopment shall be a mixed-use development consisting of commercial, residential and retail space, with an investment of not less than One Hundred Million Dollars ($100,000,000.00). The Mississippi Development Authority is authorized to negotiate all aspects of the lease and final execution of the lease shall be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that such property will be leased to a private developer for the benefit of creating value while also preserving the local environment, promoting growth in the area and generating a constant revenue stream for the State of Mississippi.

(c) The Mississippi Development Authority is authorized to make such terms and agreements as may be reasonably necessary to effect such intent to ensure a fair and equitable return to the state, and the lease shall contain a provision requiring that the lessee construct a new residence for the Superintendent of the Mississippi School for the Blind and a new storage and building maintenance facility on the grounds of the new campus for the school.

(d) The lessee of the property shall be allowed to sublease all or a portion of such property under the terms and conditions agreed to by the Mississippi Development Authority.

(3) All lease and rental monies from the lease authorized in this section shall be deposited into a special fund, which is created in the State Treasury. Monies in the special fund shall be disbursed by the Department of Finance and Administration, to the State Board of Education, for the sole benefit of the Mississippi School for the Blind and the Mississippi School for the Deaf. Unexpended amounts remaining in the special fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any interest earned on amounts in the special fund shall be deposited to the credit of the special fund.

(4) Oil, gas and mineral rights in the property shall be reserved to the State of Mississippi, and no provision of the lease may provide otherwise.

(5) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the sale or transfer of title to the property described in subsection (1).

(6) There is created a legislative advisory committee to consult with the Mississippi Development Authority with regard to the property known as the "Old School for the Blind." Prior to the final selection of a developer and prior to the adoption of a final development plan the Mississippi Development Authority shall meet with the advisory committee to make a presentation and offer its recommendations. The advisory committee shall be composed of the following members:

(a) The respective chairmen of the Public Property Committees and Education Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate;

(b) One (1) member of the House of Representatives, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House; and

(c) One (1) member of the Senate, to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor.

The respective chairmen of the House and Senate Public Property Committees shall serve as cochairmen of the committee. All members of the advisory committee shall be notified by the cochairmen in writing of all meetings, such notices to be mailed at least five (5) days prior to the date on which a meeting is to be held. Members of the committee shall be paid from the contingent expense funds of their respective houses in the same manner as provided for committee meetings when the Legislature is not in session.

SECTION 2. (1) For purposes of this section and Section 3 of this act, "Old School for the Blind Land" means the land described in Section 1 of this act.

(2) At any time after the first fifteen (15) years of the term of any residential lease or sublease of Old School for the Blind Land, the then present lessee may obtain from the Mississippi Development Authority a new sixty-year lease on the terms and conditions contained in the then current lease form approved for use in residential leases with the exception of rent. Rent under such sixty-year leases will be payable on the same annual payment date as rent under the lease being renewed. The annual rental under the new lease will be determined by the Mississippi Development Authority as follows:

(a) Renewal of Leases with Fixed Rental (nonescalating): The Mississippi Development Authority will recompute the annual rental due under the lease being renewed as if the lease had contained annual rents at the fixed amount stated in the lease for the first ten-year period, escalating thereafter at ten percent (10%), rounded to the nearest Five Dollars ($5.00), every five-year period. The annual rental which would have been payable as of the renewal date will be the annual rent payable for the first ten-year period of the renewed lease. Annual rental will escalate thereafter at ten percent (10%), rounded to the nearest Five Dollars ($5.00), every five (5) years. Recomputed annual rental will be payable from and after the first day of the renewed lease term and not for the period prior to renewal.

(b) Renewal of Leases with Escalating Rental: Annual rental will remain payable in accordance with the terms of the lease being renewed with rental continuing to escalate at ten percent (10%), rounded to the nearest Five Dollars ($5.00), every five (5) years during the renewed term.

(3) A reasonable nonrefundable fee may be charged for preparation of the renewal lease. The lessee will be responsible for obtaining the consent of any mortgage holder to the lease modification.

(4) At any time a lessee is found to be in default or in breach of the terms and conditions contained in the lease, the Mississippi Development Authority shall give thirty (30) days' written notice to such lessee before terminating the lease. Such notice shall be by certified mail and shall specifically state the default or breach. If the lessee does not cure the default or breach within thirty (30) days of such notice, then the Mississippi Development Authority shall give written notice to the holder of any mortgage or deed of trust on the leasehold and such holder shall thereupon have thirty (30) days to cure the default or breach before the lease is terminated.

SECTION 3. (1) Any holder of a lease of Old School for the Blind Land that is not a residential lease subject to Section 2 of this act, shall have the right, exclusive of all other persons, to renew the lease at fair market value at any time prior to expiration of the lease.

(2) Other than the right of a lessee to renew at fair market value, nothing in this section is intended to limit or restrict the right of the Mississippi Development Authority to negotiate terms of any lease in furtherance of any of the purposes authorized by this section and in a manner deemed favorable to the state.

(3) (a) Prior to entering into any nonresidential lease under this section, whether a new or renewal lease, the Mississippi Development Authority shall obtain at least one (1) appraisal from a competent appraiser establishing the fair market rental value of the land, exclusive of improvements made by the leaseholder or any predecessor in title, and, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, the land shall not be leased for an amount less than the fair market rental as determined by the appraiser. The Mississippi Development Authority may require such other terms as it deems advisable. The cost of the appraisal shall be paid by the Mississippi Development Authority and may be included in the costs of lease renewal to be reimbursed by the lessee.

(b) The lessee may obtain an appraisal from a certified real estate appraiser establishing the fair market rental value of the land. If the fair market rental value of the land established in such appraisal differs from the fair market rental value of the land established in the appraisal obtained by the Mississippi Development Authority, the land shall not be leased for an amount less than the average of the fair market rental value established by the two (2) appraisals.

(4) For the purposes of this section, "terms" means rent, rent escalation clauses, rental adjustment periods and method of determination, term of years, permitted use, condition of improvements, removal of improvements, compliance with rules and regulations and other matters typically addressed in a commercial lease.

(5) In the event a lessee has not obtained a new lease pursuant to the provisions of this section, any preemptive right of the lessee to lease the property shall be extinguished upon expiration of the lease, and, if required by the terms of the lease and at the option of the Mississippi Development Authority, the lessee shall remove all improvements and other structures on the property immediately upon termination of the lease.

SECTION 4. Section 27-33-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

27-33-17. The meaning of the words "own," "owned," "ownership" and similar words, for the purpose of this article, shall be limited to real estate, and to title, as follows:

(a) "Fee title," meaning inheritable title (whether by inheritance, gift or purchase), limited to only ownerships known as (1) "absolute" (freehold), or (2) "tenancy for life" (life estate), or (3) "tenancy in common," "joint tenancy," "joint ownership" and "common title"; the conditions of none of which may be restricted during the life of the owner as to possession, occupancy and use; and the words "joint owner," "joint tenant" or "joint tenancy" when used in this article shall include "tenant in common," "tenancy in common" and "estate in common," unless a different meaning is clearly indicated by the context.

(b) "An express trust of record," meaning a trust created in express terms in a recorded deed, will or other writing, with reference to the land to which it applies, the beneficiary of which trust is the head of a family, who under the terms of the trust, is entitled to and does occupy and use the property as a home, which property is assessed for taxation to the beneficiary and on which property the beneficiary pays the taxes, unless otherwise provided in the trust.

(c) "School lands legally leased," meaning a legal lease of school land which is perpetually renewable, or school land legally leased for a term of ten (10) years or more under the provisions of Section 211 of the Mississippi Constitution, the owner of which lease is the head of a family who is entitled to and does occupy and use the property as a home, and who renders the property for assessment and pays the taxes thereon, as required by law.

(d) "Pearl River Valley Water Supply District lands legally leased," meaning a legal lease of lands owned in fee by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, an agency of the State of Mississippi, for a period of twenty (20) years or more, with the option of renewal for successive periods of ten (10) years, to a person, individually or in joint tenancy, who is the head of a family and is entitled to and does occupy and use the property as a home, and who renders the property for assessment and pays the taxes thereon, as required by law.

(e) "Mississippi-Yazoo Delta Levee Board lands legally leased," meaning a legal lease of lands owned in fee title by the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta Levee Board, an agency of the State of Mississippi, for a period of five (5) years or more, with the option of renewal for successive periods of five (5) years, to a person, individually or in joint tenancy, who is the head of a family and is entitled to and does occupy and use the property as a home, and who renders the property for assessment and pays the taxes thereon, as required by law. This exemption shall include all leases in existence that were entered into prior to July 1, 1992.

(f) If title is held by deed or other grant, such instrument shall be dated and acknowledged on or before January 1 of the year for which homestead exemption is applied and shall be filed for record with the chancery clerk on or before January 7 of the year for which homestead exemption is applied and the book and page of such recordation shall be noted on the application. If title is held by will, inheritance, adverse possession or any means other than grant, same may be proved by affidavit, citation of any court record, or such other evidence as may be required by the commission. However, nothing shall prevent homestead exemptions where it shall be shown that title was derived through inheritance and the recording evidence otherwise necessary was later recorded.

(g) "Fraternal or benevolent organization land legally leased," meaning a legal lease of land from any fraternal or benevolent organization owning land exempt from ad valorem taxation under the provisions of Section 27-31-1, leased for ten (10) years or more or for life, the owner of which lease is a head of a family who is entitled to and does occupy and uses the property as a home, and who renders the property for assessment and pays the tax thereon, as required by law. This paragraph shall not apply to any leased land if the dwelling located thereon is owned by the fraternal or benevolent organization.

(h) "A remainder interest in the dwelling and eligible land," meaning an interest held by the children of a testator in a dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located, created by the express terms of the will of the testator, in which the children of the testator are granted the use of property only upon the death or remarriage of the spouse of the testator or the occurrence of certain other contingencies and such dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located is assessed for taxation to the children of the testator and on which dwelling and eligible land the children of the testator pay the taxes thereon, as required by law.

(i) "Old School for the Blind land legally subleased," meaning a legal sublease of land leased pursuant to Section 1 of House Bill No. 1185, 2007 Regular Session, subleased for twenty (20) years or more, the owner of which lease is a head of a family who is entitled to and does occupy and uses the property as a home, and who renders the property for assessment and pays the tax thereon, as required by law.

SECTION 5. Section 27-33-19, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

27-33-19. The word "home" or "homestead" whenever used in this article shall mean the dwelling, the essential outbuildings and improvements, and the eligible land assessed on the land roll actually occupied as the primary home of a family group, eligible title to which is owned by the head of the family, a bona fide resident of this state, and when the dwelling is separately assessed on the land roll for the year in which the application is made, subject to the limitations and conditions contained in this article. And the meaning of the word is hereby extended to specifically include:

(a) One or more separate, bona fide dwellings and the land on which they are located, each occupied under eligible ownership rights by the widow or the widower, or the children of a deceased parent, each separate home being property or a portion of property owned by a deceased person whose estate has not been distributed or divided or vested in a person or persons for life. But in each case the property for which exemption is sought may not be more than the applicant's inherited portion, and must be accurately described on the application and the conditions explained in writing. But the heirs may elect to accept one (1) homestead for the estate. The home occupied by the surviving spouse as provided by the laws of this state shall be preferred over the homes claimed by the children, and the exemption to any other heir shall not exceed the remaining amount obtained by deducting the assessed value of the surviving spouse's portion from the assessed value of the whole, divided by the number of heirs other than the surviving spouse. Each heir claiming exemption shall meet the requirements as to occupancy, residence and head of a family, and no part of the undivided inherited lands shall be combined with other lands and included in a homestead exemption under this article except in the case of the surviving spouse.

(b) One or more separated dwellings and eligible land, not apartments, occupied each by a family group as a bona fide home, eligible title to which entire property is held jointly by purchase or otherwise by the heads of the families, and each joint owner shall be allowed exemption on the proportion of the total assessed value of all the property, equal to his fractional interest (except as otherwise provided in paragraph (r) of this section), provided no part of the jointly owned property shall be exempted to a joint owner who has been allowed an exemption on another home in the state.

(c) A dwelling and eligible lands owned jointly or severally by a husband and wife, if they are actually and legally living together. But if husband and wife are living apart, not divorced, as provided by paragraphs (c) and (d) of Section 27-33-13, jointly owned land shall not be included except that the dwelling occupied as a home at the time of separation shall be eligible if owned jointly or severally.

(d) The dwelling and eligible land on which it is located, owned and actually occupied as a home by a minister of the gospel or by a licensed school teacher actively engaged whose duties as such require them to be away from the home for the major part of each year, including January 1, provided it was eligible before such absence, and no income is derived therefrom, and no part of the dwelling claimed as a home is rented, leased or occupied by another family group, and when the home is eligible except for the temporary absence of the owner.

(e) The dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located, consisting of not more than four (4) apartments; provided (1) if one (1) apartment is actually occupied as a home by the owner the exemption shall be limited to one-fourth (1/4) the exemption granted pursuant to this article, or (2) if the dwelling and land is owned by four (4) persons and the four (4) owners each occupy one (1) apartment as a home, the exemption shall be granted equally to each owner; provided revenue is not derived from any part of the property except as permitted by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this section. If the dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located consists of not more than three (3) apartments, and one (1) apartment is actually occupied as a home by the owner, the exemption shall be limited to one-third (1/3) the exemption granted pursuant to this article, or if the dwelling and land is owned by three (3) persons and the three (3) owners each occupy one (1) apartment as a home, the exemption shall be granted equally to each owner; provided revenue is not derived from any part of the property except as permitted by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this section. If the dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located consists of not more than two (2) apartments and one (1) apartment is actually occupied as a home by the owner, the exemption shall be limited to one-half (1/2) the exemption granted pursuant to this article, or if the dwelling and land is owned by two (2) persons and the two (2) owners each occupy one (1) apartment as a home, the exemption shall be granted equally to each owner; provided revenue is not derived from any part of the property except as permitted by paragraphs (g) and (h) of this section.

(f) The dwelling and eligible land on which it is located, actually occupied as the bona fide home of a family group owned by the head of the family whereof five (5) and not more than six (6) rooms are rented to tenants or boarders, and where there are rented rooms and an apartment, the apartment shall be counted as three (3) rooms; provided the exemption shall be limited to one-half (1/2) the exemption granted pursuant to this article.

(g) The dwelling and eligible land being the bona fide home of a family group owned by the head of the family used partly as a boarding house, or for the entertainment of paying guests, if the number of boarders or paying guests does not exceed eight (8).

(h) The dwelling and eligible land being the bona fide home of a family group owned by the head of the family wherein activity of a business nature is carried on, but where the assessed value of the property associated with the business activity is less than one-fifth (1/5) of the total assessed value of the bona fide home; provided, however, that when the owner's full-time business is located in the bona fide home of the head of the family, such owner shall be limited to one-half (1/2) of the exemption granted pursuant to this article.

(i) The dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located and other eligible land even though ownership of and title to the dwelling and the land on which it is located has been conveyed to a housing authority for the purpose of obtaining the benefits of the Housing Authorities Law as authorized by Sections 43-33-1 through 43-33-53 or related laws.

(j) A dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located owned by a person who is physically or mentally unable to care for himself and confined in an institution for treatment shall be eligible notwithstanding the absence of the owner unless the home is excluded under other provisions of this article. The exemption is available for a period of ten (10) years from the day of confinement.

(k) The dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located owned by two (2) or more persons of a group, as defined in paragraph (f) of Section 27-33-13, when two (2) or more of the group have eligible title, or if the group holds a life estate, a joint estate or an estate in common; provided the title of the several owners shall be of the same class.

(l) A dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located under a lease of sixty (60) years by the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District at the reservoir known as the "Ross Barnett Reservoir" actually occupied as the home or homestead of a family or person as defined heretofore in this article. However, no such family group or any other person heretofore qualified and defined in this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

(m) Units of a condominium constructed in accordance with Section 89-9-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972, known as the "Mississippi Condominium Law," and actually occupied as the home or homestead of a family or person as defined heretofore in this article. However, no such family group or any other person heretofore qualified and defined in this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

(n) A dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located held under a lease of ten (10) years or more or for life, from a fraternal or benevolent organization and actually occupied as the home or homestead of a family or person as defined heretofore in this article. No such family group or any other person heretofore qualified and defined in this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

(o) A dwelling being the bona fide home of a family group owned by the head of the family and located on land owned by a corporation incorporated more than fifty (50) years ago and in which the homeowner is a shareholder, and which corporation owns no land outside Monroe and Itawamba Counties. No family group or any other person heretofore qualified and defined in this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

(p) A dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located under a lease of five (5) years or more by the Mississippi-Yazoo Delta Levee Board actually occupied as the home or homestead of a family or person as defined pursuant to this article. However, no such family group or any other person qualified and defined pursuant to this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article. The definition shall include all leases in existence that were entered into prior to July 1, 1992.

(q) A dwelling and the eligible land on which the spouse of a testator is granted the use of such dwelling for life or until the occurrence of certain contingencies and the children of such testator are granted a remainder interest in the dwelling and eligible land. Such dwelling and eligible land will only qualify as a home or homestead if (i) the spouse of the testator would otherwise qualify as head of a family if the interest were a tenancy for life (life estate) and (ii) the dwelling and eligible land is actually occupied as the home of the spouse of the testator. The children of the testator shall be allowed to establish an additional homestead for purposes of this article.

(r) A dwelling and the eligible land actually occupied as the bona fide home of a family group. If a person has been granted use and possession of a home in a divorce decree, that individual is eligible for full exemption, regardless of whether the property is jointly owned.

(s) A dwelling being the bona fide home of a family group located on land owned by a corporation incorporated more than forty (40) years ago and in which the head of the family group is a shareholder, and which corporation owns no land outside Lee County, Mississippi. No family group or any other person qualified and defined in this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

(t) The floor or floors of a building used solely for the residence of a family group when the building is owned by the head of the family and another floor or floors of the building are used for business activity.

(u) A dwelling being the bona fide home of a family group located on land owned by an incorporated club and in which the head of the family group is a shareholder, and which incorporated club owns no land outside Union County, Mississippi; provided, the incorporated club pays all ad valorem taxes levied on the land upon which the dwelling is located. No family group or any other person qualified and defined in this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

(v) A dwelling and the eligible land on which it is located under a sublease of twenty (20) years or more on land leased pursuant to Section 1 of House Bill No. 1185, 2007 Regular Session, actually occupied as the home or homestead of a family or person as defined pursuant to this article. However, no such family group or any other person qualified and defined pursuant to this article shall be allowed to establish more than one (1) home or homestead for the purpose and intent of this article.

SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.