Board hears from FEMA, insurance companies, residents

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Pearl River County Board of Supervisors heard from local residents, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the board’s insurance advisors, HUB International Gulf South Limited.

Bernie Holland, who had previously addressed the board about subdividing his property and the requirements to put a road into the property off of Smith Road, came before the board again Monday morning. Holland said he had been measuring the roads in the area close to his home, to see if any of those roads were the width required by the building code regulations. Holland had been told at the previous meeting attended that he had to put in a 20-foot road, with a 60-foot right of way. Holland listed several roads that did not meet the 20-foot requirements of the building codes, and said that his driveway is 18 feet wide with a 20 foot culvert. Holland’s request was that he be allowed to use his driveway as the road into the property long enough to be able to sell the three lots that he is trying to subdivide so he can make the money to put in a road that is up to specifications.

“My driveway is 18 feet wide. I have a 20 foot culvert end to end. … It’s wider than Liberty Road. What I would like to do is use it temporarily until I can sell three of those lots and afford to build this road. … I don’t understand why you can’t get some sort of a compromise because we can’t afford to spend $30,000 on a county 20-foot wide road. … There ought to be a way that we ought to be able to sell at least three of these lots so we can afford to put in that $30,000 road,” Holland said.

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District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said he went out to view the property and said that there are county roads that are worse than Smith Road. Thigpen said he believed Holland’s offer was reasonable, and he thought if Holland could bond out for a year and sell the lots so he could build the road, then that was what the county should allow him to do so.

Holland said they had measured Mississippi 43 in Picayune and that road was 22 feet wide from “white line to white line,” which is the width specified by the county.

“We don’t want a state highway going into that little subdivision,” Holland said.

District III Supervisor Larry Davis asked if Holland wanted to put in an asphalt road.

“We have been permitted to put in a gravel road, and it’s for three lots. There will be three families back there. It’s not gonna be like it’s going to be a big subdivision with a lot of people,” Angela Holland said.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales asked if there was a variance issued on the road requirement, could the Hollands meet the rest of the requirements.

Bernie Holland said the only thing they have a problem with is making the road 20 feet wide.

The board called Planning and Development Director Harold Holmes to ask what was the smallest road base that the board has ever approved for a gravel road.

Davis pointed out that regulations state that if a person builds off of a gravel road, they can build a gravel road, but if they build off an asphalt road, they must build an asphalt addition.

The Hollands were eventually told to go back to Holmes and find out what the bare minimum requirements were for the road.

 Phil Strouse, a FEMA Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison, said that FEMA is trying to work with cities and counties about the travel trailers that are still in the county on private properties.

“(We need to) see who is actively trying to rebuild and who is just sitting and who needs to be removed first,” Strouse said.

Strouse told the board that although FEMA has a deadline of March 2009 for residents to be out of FEMA travel trailers, the city and county regulations supersede the extensions.

“If the county or city says it wants the units out by September 30, that’s something that has to be abided by,” Strouse said. “FEMA has to work with the county to tell these people they have to get out of the travel trailers.”

Strouse said once the county or city’s deadline occurs, the tenant should contact FEMA which will assist in removing the trailers. Once the trailers are removed, FEMA will assist residents in finding other housing such as rental spaces a motel space, or a mobile home, and will assist the residents with paying for the alternative housing until March of 2009 when the FEMA travel trailer extension ends.

“The ball is in our court. The board makes an action and FEMA backs us up. I’m just glad we don’t have to wait until 2009 because people would wait until 2009 to do anything about it,” Thigpen said.

“FEMA can’t do it alone, and the county can’t do it alone. It has to be a team effort,” Strouse said.

Liz Raymond, HUB International Gulf South Limited Senior Vice-President, presented the board with health insurance quotes from United Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi. HUB International is the agent hired by the board to renegotiate health insurance contracts for the county.

Raymond said BCBS had come up with two competitive offers to provide health insurance to the county, which were both less than the quote from United Healthcare, which currently provides the county health insurance.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said the decision about the new insurance would need to be made by next week, as the new insurance goes into effect on October 1.

The board recessed until 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 27.