2012 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representatives McGee, Moore
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 51-9-121, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE PEARL RIVER VALLEY WATER SUPPLY DISTRICT TO EXEMPT ANY FEDERALLY TAX-EXEMPT NONPROFIT RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION THAT IS THE HOLDER OF A LEASE FROM THE DISTRICT ON JULY 1, 2012, FROM THE FURTHER PAYMENT OF LEASE PAYMENTS TO THE DISTRICT FOR AS LONG AS THE NONPROFIT RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION IS THE HOLDER OF THE LEASE FROM THE DISTRICT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 51-9-121, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
51-9-121. The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District through its board of directors is * * * empowered:
(a) To impound overflow water and the surface water of the Pearl River or its tributaries within the project area, within or without this district at the place or places and in the amount as may be approved by the Office of Land and Water Resources of the State of Mississippi, by the construction of a dam or dams, reservoir or reservoirs, works, plants, and any other necessary or useful related facilities contemplated and described as a part of the project within or without the district, to control, store, and preserve these waters, and to use, distribute, and sell the same. The Pearl River Valley Water Supply District is also empowered to construct or otherwise acquire within the project area all works, plants, or other facilities necessary or useful to the project for the purpose of processing the water and transporting it to cities and others for domestic, municipal, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and manufacturing purposes and is * * * given the power to control open channels for water delivery purposes.
(b) To acquire and develop any other available water necessary or useful to the project and to construct, acquire, and develop all facilities within the project area deemed necessary or useful with respect thereto.
(c) To prevent or aid in the prevention of damage to person or property from the waters of the Pearl River or any of its tributaries.
(d) To forest and reforest, and to aid in the foresting and reforesting of the project area, and to prevent and aid in the prevention of soil erosion and floods within this area; to control, store, and preserve within the boundaries of the project area the waters of the Pearl River or any of its tributaries, for irrigation of lands and for prevention of water pollution.
(e) To acquire by purchase, lease, gift, or in any other manner (otherwise than by condemnation) and to maintain, use, and operate all property of any kind, real, personal, or mixed, or any interest therein within the project area, within or without the boundaries of the district, necessary for the project and convenient to the exercise of the powers, rights, privileges, and functions conferred upon the district by this article.
(f) To acquire by condemnation all property of any kind, real, personal, or mixed, or any interest therein within the project area not exceeding one-quarter (1/4) mile from the outside line of the three hundred (300) feet above sea level contour on each side of the Pearl River except as provided for rights-of-way under subsection (g) of this section, within or without the boundaries of the district, necessary for the project and the exercise of the powers, rights, privileges, and functions conferred upon the district by this article, according to the procedure provided by law for the condemnation of lands or other property taken for rights-of-way or other purposes by railroads, telephone, or telegraph companies. For the purposes of carrying out this article, the right of eminent domain of the district shall be superior and dominant to the right of eminent domain of railroad, telegraph, telephone, gas, power, and other companies or corporations, and shall be sufficient to enable the acquisition of county roads, state highways, or other public property in the project area and the acquisition, or relocation, of the above-mentioned utility property in the project area; however, Mississippi Highway 43 as presently located shall be kept open as part of the state highway system. The cost of right-of-way purchases, rerouting, and elevating all other county maintained roads affected by construction of the reservoir shall be borne by the water district, and new construction shall be of equal quality as in roads existing as of May 5, 1958. The amount and character of interest in land, other property, and easements thus to be acquired shall be determined by the board of directors, and their determination shall be conclusive and shall not be subject to attack in the absence of manifold abuse of discretion or fraud on the part of such board in making such determination. However,
(i) In acquiring lands, either by negotiation or condemnation, the district shall not acquire minerals or royalties within the project area; sand and gravel shall not be considered as minerals within the meaning of this section; * * *
(ii) No person or persons owning the drilling rights or the right to share in production shall be prevented from exploring, developing, or producing oil or gas with necessary rights-of-way for ingress and egress, pipelines, and other means of transporting these products by reason of the inclusion of such lands or mineral interests within the project area, whether below or above the waterline; but any such activities shall be under such reasonable regulations by the board of directors as will adequately protect the reservoir; and
(iii) In drilling and developing, these persons are * * * vested with a special right to have the mineral interest integrated and their lands developed in such drilling unit or units as the State Oil and Gas Board shall establish after due consideration of the rights of all of the owners to be included in the drilling unit.
Moreover, where any site or plot of land is to be rented, leased, or sold to any person, firm, or corporation for the purpose of operating recreational facilities thereon for profit, then the board shall, by resolution, specify the terms and conditions of the sale, rental, or lease, and shall advertise for public bids thereon. When bids are received, they shall be publicly opened by the board, and the board shall thereupon determine the highest and best bid submitted and shall immediately notify the former owner of the site or plot of the amount, terms, and conditions of the highest and best bid. The former owner of the site or plot shall have the exclusive right at his option, for a period of thirty (30) days after the determination of the highest and best bid by the board, to rent, lease, or purchase that site or plot of land by meeting such highest and best bid and by complying with all terms and conditions of the renting, leasing, or sale as specified by the board. However, the board shall not in any event rent, lease, or sell to any former owner more land than was taken from the former owner for the construction of the project, or one-quarter (1/4) mile of shoreline, whichever is the lesser. If this option is not exercised by the former owner within a period of thirty (30) days, then the board shall accept the highest and best bid submitted.
Any bona fide, resident householder, actually living or maintaining a residence on land taken by the district by condemnation shall have the right to repurchase not exceeding forty (40) acres of his former land or other available land from the board of directors for a price not exceeding the price paid for condemning his land.
(g) To require the necessary relocation of roads and highways, railroad, telephone, and telegraph lines and properties, electric power lines, gas pipelines and mains and facilities in the project area, or to require the anchoring or other protection of any of these, provided due compensation is first paid the owners thereof or agreement is had with the owners regarding the payment of the cost of the relocation. It is further provided that the district is * * * authorized to acquire easements or rights-of-way in or outside of the project area for the relocation of the roads, highways, railroad, telephone, and telegraph lines and properties, electric power lines, gas pipelines and mains and facilities, and to convey the same to the owners thereof in connection with the relocation as a part of the construction of the project; however, the directors of the district shall not close any public access road to the reservoir existing prior to the construction of the reservoir unless the board of supervisors of the county in which the road is located agrees.
(h) To overflow and inundate any public lands and public property, including sixteenth section lands and in-lieu lands, within the project area.
(i) To construct, extend, improve, maintain, and reconstruct, to cause to be constructed, extended, improved, maintained, and reconstructed, and to use and operate facilities of any kind within the project area necessary or convenient to the project and to the exercise of such powers, rights, privileges, and functions.
(j) To sue and be sued in its corporate name.
(k) To adopt, use, and alter a corporate seal.
(l) To make bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs.
(m) To employ engineers, attorneys, and all necessary agents and employees to properly finance, construct, operate, and maintain the project and the plants and facilities of the district and carry out the provisions of this article, and to pay reasonable compensation for the services. For all services in connection with the issuance of bonds as provided in this article, the attorney's fee shall not exceed one-quarter of one percent (1/4 of 1%) of the principal amount of those bonds. For any other services, only reasonable compensation shall be paid for these services. The board shall have the right to employ a general manager, who shall, at the discretion of the board, have the power to employ and discharge employees. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, it may employ fiscal agents or advisors in connection with its financing program and in connection with the issuance of its bonds.
(n) To make contracts and to execute instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of the powers, rights, privileges, and functions conferred upon it by this article.
(o) To make or cause to be made surveys and engineering investigations relating to the project, or related projects, for the information of the district to facilitate the accomplishment of the purposes for which it is created.
(p) To apply for and accept grants from the United States of America, or from any corporation or agency created or designated by the United States of America, and to ratify and accept applications heretofore or hereafter made by voluntary associations to these agencies for grants to construct, maintain, or operate any project or projects which hereafter may be undertaken or contemplated by the district.
(q) To do any other acts or things necessary or convenient to the exercising of the powers, rights, privileges, or functions conferred upon it by this article or any other law.
(r) To make contracts in the issuance of bonds that may be necessary to insure the marketability thereof.
(s) To enter into contracts with municipalities, corporations, districts, public agencies, political subdivisions of any kind, and others for any services, facilities or commodities that the project may provide. The district is also authorized to contract with any municipality, corporation, or public agency for the rental, leasing, purchase, or operation of the water production, water filtration or purification, water supply and distributing facilities of the municipality, corporation, or public agency upon such consideration as the district and such entity may agree. Any such contract may be upon any terms and for any time as the parties may agree, and it may provide that it shall continue in effect until bonds specified therein and refunding bonds issued in lieu of these bonds are paid. Any contract with any political subdivision shall be binding upon the political subdivision according to its terms, and any municipalities or other political subdivisions shall have the power to enter into such contracts as in the discretion of the governing authorities thereof would be to the best interest of the people of the municipality or other political subdivision. These contracts may include, within the discretion of the governing authorities, a pledge of the full faith and credit of the political subdivisions for the performance thereof.
(t) To fix and collect charges and rates for any services, facilities, or commodities furnished by it in connection with the project, and to impose penalties for failure to pay these charges and rates when due.
(u) To operate and maintain within the project area with the consent of the governing body of any city or town located within the district, any works, plants, or facilities of any city deemed necessary or convenient to the accomplishment of the purposes for which the district is created.
(v) Subject to the provisions of this article, from time to time to lease, sell, or otherwise dispose of any property of any kind, real, personal, or mixed, or any interest therein within the project area or acquired outside the project area as authorized in this article, for the purpose of furthering the business of the district.
(w) When, in the opinion of the board of directors as shown by resolution duly passed, it shall not be necessary to the carrying on of the business of the district that the district own any lands acquired, then the board shall advertise these lands for sale to the highest and best bidder for cash and shall receive and publicly open the bids thereon. The board shall, by resolution, determine the highest and best bid submitted for such land and shall thereupon notify the former owner, his heirs or devisees, by registered mail of the land to be sold and the highest and best bid received therefor, and the former owner, or his heirs or devisees, shall have the exclusive right at his or their option for a period of thirty (30) days in which to meet the highest and best bid and to purchase the property.
(x) In addition to, or in conjunction with, any other powers and duties of the district arising under this chapter, to exercise those powers, duties and functions of a joint water management district set forth in Sections 51-8-27 through 51-8-55, except the power of eminent domain under Section 51-8-33. Before exercising those powers and duties, the district must comply with the provisions of Sections 51-8-63 and 51-8-65. In exercising the functions of a joint water management district, the district may apply to the Environmental Quality Permit Board for delegation of those powers and duties as provided by Section 51-3-15, and to apply to the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality for delegation of those powers and duties provided by Section 51-3-21.
(y) To exempt any nonprofit religious organization that is tax exempt under the United State Internal Revenue Code and is the holder of a lease from the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District on July 1, 2012, from the further payment of lease payments to the district for as long as the nonprofit religious organization is the holder of the lease from the district.
Any transaction regarding any property under the provisions of this section shall be executed in accordance with the provisions of Section 29-1-1.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2012.