Ravenwood homeowners complain about drainage; want to know what industry is locating nearby

Published 2:36 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A group of Ravenwood Subdivision homeowners on Monday told supervisors that some of the foundations to their homes are giving way, that Alligator Branch which flows past the subdivision on its eastern side was causing flooding problems and that a company was developing a huge industrial site just east of their properties, and they couldn’t find anyone who could, or would, tell them the name of the industry and what it planned to do.

Monday afternoon, after the board meeting concluded, the site was active with dump trucks and bulldozers moving around dirt. The gate on the south end of the development was closed with a warning sign on it.

Supervisors, after a long discussion with the group numbering about seven residents from or near the development, directed county planner Ed Pinero, Jr., to look into the problems thoroughly, and report back to the board. The motion was made by Anthony Hales, Sr., seconded by Supervisor Joyce Culpepper, and passed unanimously.

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Pushed on identifying the industry doing dirt work on an approximately 30-acre site just south of Picayune, between the city and Holcomb’s Railroad Crossing at J.J. Holcomb Road and Section Line Road, Supervisor’s Board President J. Patrick Lee told the group, headed by resident Brenda Rody who lives in Ravenwood, that the company was “Alliance” and that it would produce drilling silicate for the oil drilling industry.

Pinero described it later as “high heat sand,” which is sand heated in a furnace and by so doing, all the grains are made all the same size and the sand is made less abrasive.

No one appeared to know why there had not been a formal public announcement concerning the industry, although Pinero, who is also mayor of Picayune, said that the company had not done anything that would require a permit from the City of Picayune or from the county. He said the only permits the company had to acquire right now would come from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

He said public hearings on the industry would be held, although he did not give a date on when that might be.

Rody told supervisors that when she tried to find out what was happening at the site, she met a wall of silence. She had been told, she said, that there would be some drilling done on the site, but Lee said no drilling would be done there.

A resident who lives near the development, Doug Burrell, but not in the Ravenwood subdivision, said he was sitting at his computer when the company began driving pilings into the ground and his computer screen started shaking and vibrating.

“Now, I am not one to be anti-economic-development. I had to work in New Orleans to make a decent living, although I lived here, but I would like to know what is going in near me and my home,” Burrell told supervisors.

As to the deterioration of foundations of the homes, Pinero told the homeowners that was an issue between them and the developers or the person or company from whom they acquired their home.

At one point, Pinero asked the group if they were looking for a buyout by the government, and one homeowner told the board that she would accept one if offered.

Rody said that all the problems at the subdivision have devalued her home, that the subdivision has gotten a bad reputation and that it would be difficult to now sell her home.

She said the residents didn’t know about the problems when they bought their homes.

Pinero said a number of homes lie right within the flood plain, or flood way, of Alligator Branch. He said the plats for the homes were approved by previous administrations and would not meet the specifications that codes now require. He said that what regulations the county did have when Ravenwood was developed were lax.

Hales said he had been trying during his entire time in office to strengthen subdivision regulations in the county, and had met with opposition.

He said one group wanting relief will support strengthening regulations, but another group downstream will be against it.

As to fixing flooding problems along Alligator Branch, Lee said that if anything is done, it should start at East Pearl River where the branch terminates and work backwards the entire length of the branch. “That’s the only way to solve that problem,” he said. “I am familiar with that stream, and we have already cleaned out portions of it, but they fill back up quickly.”

Burrell said there is a beaver dam along the branch that is also obstructing the flow.

Hales told the residents that the county wanted to help, but right now has no extra funds to help. He said supervisors would look for funds from the state and federal government in hopes of getting help to alleviate the problem.

Ravenwood is right across from the intersection of J.J. Holcomb Road and Section Line Road. It used to be the site of the old Satellite trailer park. It’s on the north side of Section Line Road and just south of the Picayune Industrial Park.

The next board meeting is Wednesday, March 21.