Supervisors hear dispute between agencies over land subdivision

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The subdivision of private property off of Smith Road in Picayune was a hot topic of discussion at the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Monday.

Bernie and Angela Holland own 17.85 acres at the end of Smith Road and told the board they have been trying to subdivide three parcels of their land for sale for the past year. Angela Holland said she had met with the Pearl River County Utility Authority and the Planning and Development Office on the matter and had done everything the groups have asked her to do up to this point, including having the land surveyed several times.

Angela Holland said she was told at the last Utility Authority meeting that she could avoid subdivision requirements and install septic tanks and wells on the property because the number of lots she was trying to subdivide was less than five lots. However, she received a letter last week from the Planning and Development office stating that she had to comply with the subdivision requirements and provide a 60 foot easement of access for Smith Road to be extended onto the property.

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Angela Holland stated that Smith Road is approximately eight to 10 feet wide, and is very dangerous with several pot holes on it.

“The road is so narrow you can’t see someone coming at you,” she said.

The Hollands’ question was why they have to provide 60-foot easements to build a road that is 20 feet wide when the existing road is not the same width and built to the same specifications.

Harold Holmes of the Planning and Development division said that with the new building codes and subdivision regulations, any new roads that are built must be built to specification, even if they are connected to existing roads that are not up to current standards.

“The problem is with the road that is already inadequate, and you can’t continue a road that is inadequate,” Holmes said.

Angela Holland said she could not afford to put in the road unless she could sell the lots, but could not sell the lots until the road was in place. She also said if she could not sell the lots, there was no reason to put in the road.

District III Supervisor Larry Davis said he didn’t believe that a 60-foot easement would be necessary to build the road, and made a motion to issue an easement requirement variance of 30 feet.

“There ain’t no way on earth they’ll need a 60-foot right of way back there. If the county would make the rest of the road wide enough, it would be different,” Davis said.

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales disagreed, saying the roads should be built to specification, and the reason the existing roads were inadequate is because they were not built to any standards.

“The rules should apply to everybody the same. If you’re going to change it for individuals, you should change the regulations. You can’t do spot situations,” Hales said.

District II Supervisor Danny Wise said there have been similar situations in the past where there was adequate reason to issue the variance.

Holmes said the variance will not solve the problem, because even with the easement variance, the road has to be built to specifications, and the specifications require a road that is 20 feet wide with proper ditches.

“(The variance) doesn’t serve any purpose. They still have to meet road design requirements. We don’t want to put in further inadequacies and continue them. What we’re trying to do is further eliminate these problems and address them,” Holmes said.

Bernie Holland asked if earlier variances had been issued, why the variance could not be issued for them.

“There’s no way to explain one’s self out of this. What do you tell the ones who are doing it right, when you change the rules for others? … Basically, you’re wanting to subdivide (this land) without complying with any regulations whatsoever,” Hales said.

Holmes said there would be no objection to the subdivision of the lots, providing the roads are built according to specifications.

The motion failed when it was finally put to a vote, with Davis and Wise voting for the variance, and Hales and District V Supervisor Bettye Stockstill voting against. District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen was out of the room at the time of the vote.

Marilyn Hayes, a senior cheerleader at Poplarville High School approached the board on behalf of herself and Jessica Holliday, another PHS senior cheerleader for financial assistance for cheerleading all star trip to Londo. Hayes and Holliday have been selected as all-stars at the cheerleading camp they attended in Panama City. They are scheduled to go to London from Dec. 26-Jan. 2, and Hayes was asking help with the costs of more than $5,000.

Hayes said she was asking the board for the help because she and Holliday would be representing the county on the trip. Hales, Stockstill and Wise all said they were out of recreational funds, but Davis said he thought he had some funding left in his recreational fund that he could donate to the trip. The board agreed that Davis would donate an undisclosed amount to the funding for the trip.

Marvin Houston, the new county director of the Department of Human Services for Pearl River County told the board, and said he will be handling all situations for the DHS in the county. Houston, who said he is originally from Pearl River County, said any problems with the DHS can be directed to his office.

Hales asked what the plan is as far as the offices of DHS remaining permanently in Millard. Hales asked would the former Picayune office, which is located in FEMA trailers in Millard, and the Poplarville office consolidate in the Millard area.

County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said he had been told the state wants to consolidate to one location, preferably in the Millard area, because of its central location in the county. Lumpkin said the problem is funding for a new building to get the offices out of the FEMA trailers.

Houston agreed that Millard is a good location for the offices.

Thigpen said he believes there is a need to build a centralized office with shelter capabilities and that the board is looking at grant opportunities to build a new building.

In other business, the board:

— Accepted report for June 2007 from Central Landfill Disposal and accepted funds.

— Awarded bid repairs on PRC Correctional Facility to HRL Construction in the amount of $98,763. Bids previously tabled from June 18.

— Accepted proposal and authorized execution of engineering agreement for two state aid projects to repair Progress/Silver Run Road and West Union Road for $1,132,000, and to repair Springhill Road, Gumpond/Beale Road, John Amacker Road, and other roads for $1,383,000.