Smart growth under fire again

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Forming a smart growth plan appears to be a hot topic, both with supervisors and at least one outspoken citizen.

The topic came up again at Monday’s Board of Supervisors’ meeting when the board took an agreement between it and Camp Dresser and McKee under consideration. That agreement concerns the board working with the agency to form a smart growth plan.

At a previous meeting,m the board voted to move forward with establishing some sort of plan, on a vote of four to one. District III Supervisor Hudson Holliday was the only supervisor to vote against it.

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When the matter concerning the agreement with the company came up, one concerned resident spoke up, asking to share his opinion. Mitch Magee said he is against the board establishing any kind of plan that would tell landowners what they can or can not do with their land. He wanted the board to first get input from the public concerning any plan that would be established. He wants an announcement in the paper, on the front page, concerning a public meeting to establish such a plan.

“I want to know how a smart growth plan will benefit me,” Magee said.

Board president Anthony Hales said if the county has a plan to fall back on when complaints come in concerning people doing things with their land that others withwhich others might disagree. A prime example Hales used involved resistance against Central Landfill expanding the dump site. Hales said even though the land belongs to Waste Management, a lot of residents wanted to oppose what the company did with the land. Having a plan in place would help protect citizens in those instances.

Holliday, who has been opposed to the county moving forward with the plan, asked the other board members if they had read closely the contract on forming a plan. Only District V Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith said he had.

So far, about $300,000 in grant funds have been spent to begin formation of a smart growth plan.

“I’m going to stand up when I think something is not right,” Holliday said in his opposition to it.

Smith thinks the plan will help people who call him with complaints about unfavorable businesses coming into the county, such as a liquor establishment.

“The liquor law is coming folks, whether we want it or not,” Smith said.

Magee suggested the board establish ordinances to regulate where certain businesses can set up shop.

“An ordinance is as good as toilet paper,” Smith said.

Mostly, Magee asked for a chance for members of the public to share their opinions on the matter and have them heard by the board.

“There’s going to be some public meetings and I tell you what, there’s going to be some blood left on the ground,” Holliday said.

After Holliday made his comment, Hales told Holliday that he is already aware that Holliday is against forming a plan.

“You just have problems with people disagreeing with you,” Hales said later in the discussion. “You tried to make everyone on this board feel bad for disagreeing with you.”

District IV Supervisor Patrick Lee said he is for establishing the plan, not because it is the easy thing to do, but because putting forth the work to establish it will benefit the county in the long run.

The board assured Magee that a public meeting would be held to gather comments and that meeting would be advertised in the local media.

Ever since senior busing ceased in the county last month, the board has been looking for an organization to get it going again. South Mississippi Planning and Development Area Agency on Aging Director Robert Moore came to the board to discuss some options.

The busing program ceased at the first of last month when Pearl River Valley Opportunity failed to receive enough funding to continue it, Hales said. Instead of PRVOasking the board for assistance, as it did with Lamer County, it simply cut out the program without warning, Hales said. Attempts to make contact with PRVO representatives have been unsuccessful so far.

The most appealing prospect to continue the program would be to use grant funds from SMPD to pay for 80 percent of the purchase of some buses. The remaining 20 percent would be covered by the board, possibly by grant funds from another organization. Hales asked Partners for Pearl River County Director Ron Fine to check into securing the grant funds, and he agreed to do so.

The busing system is the primary source of transportation for some seniors to get to the doctor, pick up prescriptions, get groceries and at times socialize with others.

“I think it’s awful for Pearl River County not to have something,” county senior citizen Mary Richardson said. “I know you don’t want us on the highways driving.”

Jamie Kennedy with Manna Ministries indicated an interest in getting some people in her organization to take on the program, but she said she first needs more information about the requirements.

The board went into executive session to discuss pending litigation. County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said when the board exited the session, it approved a motion to have Board Attorney Joe Montgomery hire a law firm to help him work on lawsuits brought against the jail. The board also approved negotiationing to purchase a piece of property south of the courthouse where the Poplarville Democrat is currently housed.

In other business the board:

— Approved a motion to go out for bids for the construction of a new Chimney Square. Lumpkin said the building will be built at the old site on Goodyear Boulevard. Construction should be complete 18 to 24 months after the board receives bids on Dec. 17.

— Approved soliciting quotes to begin infrastructure repair work to Red Hills Estates to be paid for with a $27,000 bond left by the bankrupt developer.

— Approved applying for permits from Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, Mississippi Department of Marine Quality and the Corps of Engineers for the Lake Project in Millard.

The next board meeting is at 9 a.m. Nov. 10.