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Planning commission hears of hospital, comprehensive plan

Picayune’s Planning Commission members were the first to see the conceptual site plan for the proposed new hospital and the first to hear the preliminary findings from the comprehensive plan.

Highland Community Hospital’s replacement, to be placed on U.S. 11 next to the Postal Annex, has a conceptual plan ready. Vernon Hickman, director of construction for the new site, and local developer Andy Cooper presented the conceptual plan to the commission on Tuesday.

The plan consists of a two-story, 53 bed facility. On the first floor will be the 53 beds, along with an emergency room with 19 rooms and the cafeteria. On the second floor will be the surgery and the labor and delivery services along with postpartum care, Hickman said. Consecutive phases will increase the number of beds and the footprint of the building.

A new road will be constructed from U.S. 11 to Mississippi 43 North to connect the new hospital to the interstate. That road is slated to connect to Cooper Road in the area of the Winn-Dixie shopping center, possibly at the area where CVS pharmacy is now, Cooper said. However, those plans are not set in stone. A tie into the Woods Subdivision is planned but Cooper said the main artery of the traffic will not go through the Woods.

Once it is complete, Picayune’s hospital will be brought up to the level of Forrest General in Hattiesburg, only on a smaller scale.

The commission approved a motion to accept the plan as it was presented.

Neel-Schaffer has been working on forming a comprehensive plan by gathering data from the community for some time now. Patricia Brantley with Neel-Schaffer Inc. presented her preliminary finding to the commission but said there are still about 600 community surveys from which she needs to compile more information.

So far, the information she has collected shows that residents are mostly happy with life in the city. There are some things that people would like to see, such as more control of noise pollution, more restaurants with longer hours on weekends and weekdays, restaurants that offer liquor and the legalization of liquor in general, according to information gathered in the recent Post-it Note event. Additional shops and services, such as clothing stores, better cheaper housing and speed limit enforcement, also were suggested.

Others would like to see a better walking track than Goodyear Boulevard and there were plenty of suggestions asking for a bike track. Planning Commission member Martha Ford agrees that Picayune needs a better walking track. She said every other community in the county has a secluded walking track, but using Picayune’s walking track involves dodging cars.

Suggestions also addressed the poor state of the city’s streets and other infrastructure. Other concerns included catering to the recreational needs of young people in the community with a larger variety of things to do other than sports.

“They’re the ones that will be making decisions in 20 years,” Brantley said.

Brantley said the plan is not complete and once it is, it should not be the only thing for the city to use to make decisions. However, the city should take the information provided by the community and use it in small steps to prepare Picayune for the growth it can achieve.

“There is no question that Picayune should grow,” Brantley said.

After the commission heard the information gathered so far in the comprehensive plan, members moved to recommended a new commission chairperson to the city council for its consideration. The commission took nominations for the chairperson, which included Dennis Collier and Melvin Hicks. Then, to avoid publication of the vote, the commission went into executive session to vote on whom they will recommend to the city council. That recommendation will be presented to the council at its next meeting on Dec. 16.

In other business the commission;

— Approved a request from Cooper to name an unnamed road in the Woods Subdivision as Cedar Court. Cedar Court is located west of Chinquapin Court.

— Tabled an application for a preliminary plan to subdivide property on the corner of Goodyear Boulevard and Glenwood Street.

— Approved a zoning change for a piece of property at 2110 Adcox Rd. from R-2 to C-3.

All items approved or denied by the Planning Commission will be presented to the City Council at 6 p.m. Dec. 16.