by Hunter Dawkins

In a recent decision by the Harrison County Chancery Court, the court ruled in favor of the Long Beach Harbor Resort, LLC as not requiring to enter into a separate Tidelands Lease with the Mississippi Secretary of State.  The Long Beach Harbor Resorts, LLC currently has a lease of the premises only with the city of Long Beach and the intention of developing a casino.

Previously, the Secretary of State (SOS) claimed that the premise belonged in the state by virtue of Public Trust Tidelands Law and a boundary agreement was previously entered into by the city of Long Beach and SOS in May 2011.  Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Office contended that any purchase of a property in the leased prepares is void on the grounds that the Public Trust Tidelands may not be alienated.

After filing three complaints to the court, Chancery Judge Jim Persons acknowledged that the Resort’s rights in to the leased premises arise from the amended and restated lease agreement between Blue Ridge Properties.

In a 1962 House Bill that was adopted, the Port Commission was granted full control of the harbor in Long Beach and port facilities retained authority with the state’s ownership of the Public Trust Tidelands.

25 years later, the Mississippi Legislature passed a bill that the Port Commission had control and management of the harbor and all facilities.

The amended lease reflects the Long Beach Harbor Resort’s intended use of the Leased Premise to become a part of the gaming and entertainment operation to be conducted on the property located slightly north of U.S. Highway 90.  Additional percentages of rent for non-gaming revenues and revenues from gaming operations are due to the city of Long Beach not to the Secretary of State.

Therefore, the court ruled there is no genuine issue that the Leased Premises are not subject to any jurisdiction of the SOS since the property has been used for a public purpose.  Long Beach Harbor Resorts, LLC were not required to enter into a Public Trust Tidelands Lease and has a property right with the city of Long Beach.

“This was a huge hurdle overcome for the city and the developer,” said a Long Beach City Official.  “Now, this clears the way for a casino in the city of Long Beach.”