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Public hearing held on Hilltop Estates Subdivision

A public hearing on the preliminary plat for the Hilltop Estates Subdivision was the main topic of discussion for the Pearl River County Board of Supervisor’s meeting Monday.

The subdivision, which is being developed by FMGTL, LLC of Pearl River, La., would be located off of Matthews Road just outside of Picayune. The developer was requesting that the board grant a variance in lot sizes from the required 7,500 feet down to 5,000 square feet, as well as a reduced front width from 75 to 50 feet and a decreased distance of driveways from corners of 60 feet to 30 feet.

Gary Hickman of O’Neill Bond Engineering, who represented the developer at the hearing, said the homes in the subdivision would be a minimum of 800 square feet, and the subdivision would feature a self-sustaining water and sewer treatment facility.

“The covenants call for stick-built, that’s lumber-built, homes, and are a minimum of 800 square feet, heated and cooled space. There will be no mobile homes in the subdivision. … There will be an on-site, self-sustaining sewage treatment plant that will discharge into the wetlands. There will not be a retention pond. It will be a mechanical device,” Hickman said.

Several residents from the area were at the meeting to voice concerns about the proposed subdivision.

One of those residents, Debra Graf, was concerned about where the sewage would be discharged.

“The lake overflows into my land. I don’t want sewage overflowing into my land. I’m not happy about it. That’s why I’m here, because I wanted to know what was being proposed for the water and sewage,” Graf said.

Dominick Pittari, another resident, said he has worked as a housing director in two different states, and has seen subdivision plans fail and succeed.

“Subdivision plans with this kind of density fail without the proper infrastructure. What is being proposed dilutes what the board was trying to do with bulding codes. I encourage you (the board) to hold to current subidivion plans and building codes so that these subdivision will succeed,” Pittari said.

Another concern of the residents was the condition of the roads around the proposed subdivision, and the higher amount of traffic that the subdivision would bring to the area.

“When the developer talks about improving Matthews Road, that’s like going nowhere. Matthews Road only borders (the subdivision) for a couple of hundred feet. There are other roads that will receive higher volumes of traffic that aren’t even being considered,” Pittari said.

Hickman said he wanted to emphasize that the homes that are to be built within the subdivision are in compliance with building codes, other than the variances being requested.

“The language this morning concerning this development suggests the board is trying to allow something substandard. This is not substandard. I would like to refute that. The only thing we are applying for variance on is the size of the lots. The road construction (within the subdivision) will meet current standards. The board has the right to deny the variance on the lot size. That does not mean we are putting in substandard infrasturcture. The sewer will be an on-site, centralized collection system, regulated by Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and will be maintained and operated by the Pearl River County Utility Authority,” Hickman said.

District IV Supervisor Robert Thigpen said he was against the variances.

“You never see anyone here in favor of the building codes and subdivision ordinances until something like this comes up. I’m not going to vote for something like this. It’s not the Pearl River County I want to see for my children and my grandchildren,” Thigpen said.

District III Supervisor Larry Davis agreed, saying, “As a true subdivision, I think it needs to be regulated, and disagree with these variances.”

District I Supervisor Anthony Hales said while he was not necessarily against the subdivision, he also did not agree with the proposed variances.

“If we don’t put in proper infrastructure to begin with, the demand will come later. Our response would put a financial burden on every taxpayer in the county to pay for improvements that should have been done right to begin with. If we continue to let substandard roads and streets be built, we will never catch up,” Hales said.

The board voted unanimously to deny the variance requests.

Sheriff Joe Stuart told the board he has had an increase in the number of complaints about out-of-state tags on vehicles within the county.

“Deputies issued 12 citations to people dropping off or picking up children at Carriere school,” Stuart said.

Stuart told the board that if citizens with out-of-state plates are observed at a residence for more than five nights per week, or dropping off or picking up children from a county school, then citations can be issued. The only exemptions are for military and college students.

In other business, the board:

— Received documents from Dungan Engineering regarding the proposed Lake Troy project.

— Approved a construction easement and resolution for the Pearl River County Utility Authority.

The board adjourned until Monday, Oct. 1, 2007.