Friday, May 8, 2020

Clinton Wins Fight Against Wiggins

City of Clinton officials and lovers of historic preservation have won a significant victory in the revitalization and preservation of historic Olde Towne Clinton.

On May 7, 2020, the Mississippi Supreme Court notified City Leadership that it had upheld the ruling of Hinds County Judge Larita Cooper-Stokes in favor of the City of Clinton vs Matt Wiggins.

After nearly four years of legal battles, including preservation efforts through the City Ordinances, the City of Clinton has won a lawsuit against Olde Towne property owner Matthew D. Wiggins.

The Hon. Larita Cooper-Stokes, Hinds County court judge, in a specially constituted Special Court of Eminent Domain, ruled on December 6, 2018: “That the City of Clinton shall be allowed to stabilize the economy of the commercial area with historic ramifications evidenced by the action of the governing authorities to enforce legislative code in special renewal districts, including the subject property at 110 and 112 Leake Street.”

Mayor Phil Fisher, who initiated the proceedings against Wiggins in order to preserve the historic integrity of Olde Towne, while providing additional space for retail opportunities in the historic core of Clinton, was ecstatic regarding the ruling.

“This is an important day for our City and our efforts to bring Olde Towne Clinton to life. I am excited to have these buildings rehabilitated by a new owner who will bring a sales tax generating retail establishment to Olde Towne,” Mayor Fisher proclaimed. “For well over two decades, residents of Clinton have anguished over the neglect of two historic structures at 110 and 122 West Leake Street and the end is now in sight.”

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Mississippi Constitution require a governmental entity to show a public purpose and provide just compensation for any taking of private property, which is referred to as “eminent domain.” The Urban Renewal Law for the State of Mississippi, used by the City in this proceeding, authorizes the use of eminent domain in connection with an Urban Renewal Plan and Project. In this instance, the City’s Plan focused on the continued preservation of structures in the Olde Towne Historic District.

The trial by jury, which concluded in December 2018, established just compensation for the City’s acquisition. Under the Urban Renewal Law, once this amount is paid, ownership transfers to the City. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the City, officials will make payment to take ownership of the property.

The City will then follow a legal process to transfer ownership of the property for restoration consistent with the approved Urban Renewal Plan. City leaders have expressed a desire to sell the properties to the person or entity with a million-dollar credit line, a plan for redevelopment and preservation of the two historical buildings and a schedule of completion.

“I do not want the City to go through this again, so the new owner must be able to complete the renovations in a reasonable time” added Mayor Phil Fisher.

A former Clinton resident, Wiggins, now a resident and member of the Water Association Board of Kemah, Texas, owns multiple properties in the Olde Towne area, but the two included in the recently adjudicated lawsuit were the historical buildings at the northeast corner of Jefferson and Leake Streets, which were once the site of Chilton’s mercantile store, where the assassination of pioneering black Clintonian, Senator Charles Caldwell, occurred December 27, 1875. It is one of the most well documented places in Clinton’s early history.

The City had argued that Wiggins failed to maintain his property, and also failed to make required repairs to his property in keeping with the City’s Historic Preservation Ordinance. The Olde Towne Clinton district is on the National Register of Historic Places and has numerous State and Local historical markers.

Earlier post with many pictures of violations.  


Anonymous said...

He also owns property on Lake Washington, near Greenville. He owns approximately six acres where sits the remains of an historic brick mansion, now completely burned out (mysteriously five years ago).

The mansion, used for many years (under previous ownership) as a bed and breakfast, had sat idle and unoccupied for at least a decade (under Wiggins' ownership and neglect). Once a beautiful three story place with many fine rooms, furniture, pianos and porches, it's nothing now but a shell grown up in weeds. The link below will serve as the legacy of Mr. Wiggins.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god

This is pure evil

The government can make it’s slaves pay their taxes and kill babies and make them pay to keep up private property

It’s over

We live in the old Soviet Union

Anonymous said...

London has public toilets older than this. What is the American obsession with preserving structures that are less than a millennia old? Our history is war profiteering, consumerism, and racism. It isn't worth preserving.

Anonymous said...

So the government can come in and take a persons property if they disagree with what they are doing with and deem it unsightly to their eyes? Got it.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the city of Clinton for their work in not only preservation but development of its Old Town area. Wish Jackson could afford to go after such negligent property owners.

Anonymous said...

8:12. Yes, and if the unsightly property was next door to your house you would be ecstatic that they can.

Anonymous said...

A city can sieze Person A's property under emininent domain, pay A below market rate for it, then give the property to Person B because Person B pay more in property taxes than A? absolutely horrible. The city of Clinton should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

I remember the Dojo building in the old downtown back in the 90s. I don't remember if it was in use then though.

Anonymous said...

9:06, no Karen, I may would want my neighbor to clean their stuff up, and even help or encourage them to, but I wouldn't want anyone to force them to. That is not how this works. I assume you gladly pay HOA dues to be told what to do on your own property. Do you also ask them what color you can paint your house?

Anonymous said...

Click on the picture above to enlarge it. You can clearly see the yellow tape around the building. You can clearly see the condemned sign. This building is unsafe, and has been unsafe for years. The owner should have kept the building in a sound condition. The owner has failed to do so. Kudos to Clinton for trying to make a building that is falling down, safe again.

Anonymous said...

@9:44 & 9:11 - no KarenS, we ain't ashamed and we live in neighborhoods with HOA's so that idiots like you don't move in next to us - see how well that worked!

Messick said...

Anonymous at 7:52 AM,

Stop your trolling and get back to your job, chico.

Anonymous said...

6:31 am You know nothing about the
"old Soviet Union". They demolished much history, especially in East Berlin for the " economy" and still allow their oligarchs to focus only on profit at the expense of history and culture and citizens.

FYI, people go to Europe to see the historical structures, not the bleak buildings of the Soviet era.

You ,like many, seem not to know that freedom has responsibilities and you ought not be allowed to destroy the property values of others because you are too cheap or too lazy or have an long term agenda to acquire all the adjacent property and turn it into strip mall.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Matt Wiggins owns many buildings and is letting most fall into disrepair. Rumor has it he hates Clinton, wants it to fail and will stop at nothing to achieve that. He is a terrible human.

Anonymous said...

Google the man. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Great news for Clinton and great news for historic preservation!!!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Brandon's mayor Butch Lee should grow a set and tell Womack to do the same with his constant eyesore downtown going on 20+ years. Womack thinks he's a hotshot because he's a part time lawyer but he is giving Brandon the middle finger with that dump he calls a car lot downtown.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:11 The special court of eminent domain set the value of the buildings based on appraisals. That amount will be paid to Wiggins and the City cannot sell the building for any amount less or more than that amount set by the jury in the Hinds County Trial that led to the appeal.This is a historic preservation effort to prevent two buildings from falling down and damaging connected structures. The City worked for decades to get the previous owner and Mr. Wiggins once he acquired the buildings, to comply and bring the structures up to safe standards as defined by international fire and property codes. Why should adjacent property owners be threatened with failure of their buildings due to the willful neglect of another property owner? This action protects the historical integrity of their buildings and the core of Clinton's historic Olde Towne. It was only after the owners refused to repair their buildings, that the City took this action.

9:06 - If a neighbor won't clean their mess. If rats and mold are prevalent in their structures. If floor joists are rotten and failing. If windows are falling out. What would you want a City to do if the inaction of a property owner threatens the health, safety and well being of its residents? Continue to ask nicely? or take ALL appropriate action to hold them accountable?

Anonymous said...

11:32, on your second paragraph, maybe we should send in the FBI and ATF to serve a search warrant and see how that turns out. Wait, where have I seen that?

Anonymous said...

Liberate Clinton!!!!

My building my choice!!!!!

Jack booted thugs!!!!!

It’s over!!!!! Government has won!

You have no rights!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow. The tyranny. Just, shocking. Yeah. Dang GubMint again. Expecting rich folk to keep up their buildings. What will happen next?

Will we be deprived of the FreeDumb to take a dump in our neighbors yard? Will we be laughed at for walking around with HUGE beer guts and ARs, screeching at nurses??


Anonymous said...

If you boneheads don't like the quality standards of Clinton, pick any of the other "thriving" towns/cities in Hinds County to invest and live.

Anonymous said...

"Our history is war profiteering, consumerism, and racism. It isn't worth preserving."

Tell me, 7:52, where are the advanced countries whose histories do not include racism? How about war profiteering? I'd love to see a list (and don't include Thomas More's Utopia, or Shangri La, or Atlantis). On second thought, never mind the list, just name one. I'd love to read up on it.

Anonymous said...

The opinion does not mention any finding of a nuisance so Clinton is most likely stuck with the property for 10 years. Ms Const Art 3, § 17A.

Frank Griffin said...

Thanks, Messick. Finding a sensible post on this site gets more and more like the effort to find the pony in the pile of horse shit. I'm not asking for increased censorship; I'm expressing comradeship with those who have lowered their expectations. (Even I can troll, hence my choice of "comradeship," which could well inspire someone to accuse me of wanting to live in the Old Soviet Union.) Opening this site is an occasion to put on a metaphorical mask, to avoid contagion. Even so, there are plenty of folks showing up who are well-spoken. And more on the immediate topic, most people know to beware of absentee landlords, especially the petty, selfish sort like Mr. Wiggins. He was a decent textbook salesman, but that ended early.

Anonymous said...

Some of you need to accept the fact that this nation is moving left. You curmudgeons are going to take your tired ideas to the grave. You claim voices of dissent are trolls because you live in an echo chamber. Well, get used to it grandpa.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:08

It is definitely moving left, which is also akin to moving downhill.

You leftist enjoy your future taxes and regulation because you're gonna get plenty of it.

Anonymous said...

I was in Law School at M.C. when Matt owned the law school bookstore at this site. Never had a problem with him. Somehow, Matt's mind has "evolved" over the years. Sad to learn about this saga.

Anonymous said...

Ole Matt Wiggins. He was a character back in the day. I was in high school when I heard he owned or was involved in the “Old Lamar” that is now 1 Jackson Place. It was the night club we went to as teenagers. It was demolished before being turned into its present day version. Although we were underage, he still allowed us to enter The Lamar. I’m sure he sold it to make a huge profit. Was he involved in the opening of The New Lamar, which became Hal and Mal’s? Also, at the young age of 16-17, I played basketball for my HS. While playing, the creepy referee kept making lewd comments to me during quite a few of the games. My last regular season game, I had my best game ever, scoring 28 points. The same strange referee kept making those comments, even more so since I was having a good game. (This was private school ball so I knew he probably was some old man they scraped up). Finally, he referred to owning all the old property in and around Jackson and didn’t i recognize him, being the owner of a teeny-bopper bar. I realized who it was and told our coach he was bothering me. He never referred again at our school. I know I shouldn’t have snuck in bars below the legal age but my take on Matt was that he was a creepy, wealthy, slime ball that wanted to prey on others. I’m not at all surprised that he is not keeping his property up. I always wondered why he left town and where he went. He was a gross middle aged man then. It sounds like he has not changed at all. Thank you for bringing this forward.

Anonymous said...

Also, it appears that by 1990, Matt Wiggins was in Texas. Why did he move to Texas when he was very active in real estate and high school refereeing in and around Jackson/Clinton in the mid-80’s? Was he in some trouble that made him move?

Anonymous said...

As was posted earlier, Google the man. He became mayor of a podunk Texas town and has been agitating out there for many years. By the way, he's active on Facebook. Still creepy.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know what happened to the old guy that ran the Judo place in that building?

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

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