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Council tables action on apartment complex

The Picayune City Council took tabled a vote on a new apartment complex in the city until concerns about flooding that may be caused by the construction could be worked out.

Because of flooding problems caused by another apartment complex built in the same area, councilman Anna Turnage wanted to make sure that the new development would not add to the flooding. Citizens and council members also were worried about flooding and traffic in the area.

“I’m not opposed to growth, but past experiences in that area where you want to put it (show) the drainage is not good,” Turnage said.

Traffic also would be increased in the area by the 136 unit building, especially on South Haugh where traffic would flow into and out of the complex. Councilman Larry Watkins asked which direction the water moves in that area. Watkins agreed the area in question has always had drainage problems.

Developer Chris Hughes said it moves mostly in a south east direction.

Hughes said his engineers are working to keep drainage from being an issue not. He said there are retaining ponds planned for the area that are capable of discharging the water at an acceptable rate without flooding the surrounding area.

Hughes received a letter from the city proposing the development be responsible if adverse flooding occurs due to the development’s construction in the area. Hughes said he is not opposed to signing the agreement, so long as his lawyer has a chance to examine the document and make sure everything is legal.

Hughes’ main concern is that he has been working on this development for about 15 months and has not begun construction.

Resident and owner of Picayune Funeral Home Henrietta Brown said she is concerned for her property and her neighbors’ property if the new apartment building is built.

“I don’t want to flood, and I don’t want my neighbors to flood,” Brown said.

“The intent is certainly to protect the citizens that live in the area,” said Councilman Leavern Guy, who was acting as mayor pro-tempore in the absence of Mayor Greg Mitchell.

The council decided to table the request of the planning commission to acknowledge the public hearing and submit the public’s comments and concerns into the minutes until the June 5th meeting to allow Hughes to have his lawyer review the discussed agreement. Until then, Hughes can continue to discuss his development with the site plan committee to keep the process moving.

Picayune may soon get the long promised new train depot. Grants coordinator Barbara McGrew said construction of the new depot should begin about May 25. She showed the council plans of the new depot with color schemes.

City Manager Ed Pinero announced the city received a letter from Gov. Haley Barbour stating funding for the new fire station has been approved. The city now will have $1.4 million to construct the new station. Also, the city was approved for a $110,000 grant to update the city’s comprehensive plan and conduct a population study. Both grants are 100 percent Community Development Block Grants.

Sons of Confederate Americans presented Police Chief Jim Luke with an award for his department receiving national accreditation. Chaplain of the Sons of Confederate Americans Bill Rutledge said the organization makes an effort to stay out of political affairs, but Rutledge said Luke had earned the award before the organization knew he was running for sheriff.

One citizen took the time to commend the new city manager for his hard work since his city employment began.

“Ed has been the best city manager I have known since I have been here,” said resident John McKean.

McKean came to the meeting to discuss some sore spots he has had with the city for some time now and said he has taken note of Pinero’s work. Pinero asked McKean to come and talk with him at his convenience to work out those sore spots.

The council went into executive session to discuss a contractual matter with Mississippi Power concerning power poles where no action was taken, a contractual matter with Nextel to continue negotiations to install a new Sprint/Nextel cell tower to fill in gaps of city cell phone coverage and a personnel matter. In the personnel matter City Manger Ed Pinero said he was made the point of contact between the city and county for an agreement to share GIS and Geospatial maps and information.

“It was just a gap in communication so we corrected that gap in communication and we are moving forward,” Pinero said.

In other business the council;

— Approved a motion to accept a bid for solid waste and rubbish collection and disposal so Coastal Waste Services of Slidell, La., can begin the process of securing bonds and the city and the company can iron out contractual details.

— Denied a request for conditional use to operate a mini dachshund kennel for a home on 115 Dozier St.

— Declared 305 Rosa St., 716 S. Curran Ave. and 718 S. Curran Ave., as public nuisance properties. Owners of those properties have 30 days to bring them up to city compliance.

— Approved a request to accept donations from Picayune Police Officers Association and the Gold Wing Riders Association for the Police Department’s D.A.R.E. Program and a separate donation to the Police Department’s Youth Program.

The next council meeting is June 5, in the council chambers of City Hall.