Supervisors discuss litigation against J&J Wholesalers
Another public hearing was held concerning J&J Wholesalers at Monday’s Lafayette County of Board of Supervisors meeting.
J&J Wholesalers and its businessowner, Brian Jones, are being charged pursuant with Article VII Section 3B of the Lafayette County Development Standards and Regulations. According to Director of Development Services Joel Hollowell, this problem has persisted for far too long.
“For the past four years, Mr. Jones has intentionally evaded the regulations of this county, the regulations that every other business has to abide by,” Hollowell said during his presentation to the Board.
In early 2016, Jones came to Lafayette County from Panola County, seeking an address for his property off Highway 7. He claimed that he was relocating his used car dealership, yet it was later discovered that Jones was being untruthful.
“In August of 2016, we started witnessing the construction of his project was an 8,000 square-foot slab,” Hollowell explained. “But, as I would pass by, I also noticed that there was a smaller building on the property. I stopped workers there, and one specifically stated that this smaller building was going to be a childcare facility.”
This smaller building eventually became Jones’s residence. He was later charged with constructing a commercial complex without site plan approval. Jones combated this charge by seeking site approval in June of 2017.
At that meeting, the Board granted preliminary site plan approval contingent upon several factors.
“Mr. Jones was to immediately purchase a building permit in accordance with the 2012 International Building Code,” Hollowell said. “He also had to complete this site work, which included screening from Highway Seven erosion measures. Mr. Jones even stated that he would pave the entire parking area.”
This seemed promising until each successive deadline arrived, Hollowell said.
“There were always excuses for why the site plan was not completed,” he said. “The building permit expired, but we extended that without further charges.”
Jones was eventually prosecuted and required to appear before the Board in January 2019. He plead guilty, stating that he was exercising his right to appeal to the Circuit Court.
“During that time when we were awaiting Mr. Jones’s appeal, I was advised not to pursue additional charges,” Hollowell said. “I was then notified that Mr. Jones had actually decided not to appeal and to pay a fine.”
Since Jones had still not completed his site plan approval, Hollowell sought council from an attorney, who advised him to begin the process over again. During the allotted 30 days he was given to resolve the issue, Jones never made contact with Hollowell or the Board. Jones was later delivered a cease and desist for illegal occupation at the property.
“Today, we are recommending that you follow through prosecuting on two of the four charges against Mr. Jones,” Hollowell said.
The first charge is for violating the site plan approval process, which carries with it a fine of $100 per day with each successive day being a new violation. Hollowell also recommended that the Board follow through with the charge that Jones has not had a building permit since his expired.
These violations would amount to $64,000 for violating site plan approval and $49,350 for violating the permitting process.
After pleas from Panola County attorney Gaines Baker, the Board voted to give Jones a two-week extension, during which Hollowell has full authority to inspect and investigate the property in question.
This item will be back on the agenda at the Board’s first November meeting, which is set for Nov. 2 at 5 p.m. in the Chancery Building.
By Hayden Wiggs | EAGLE Contributor
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