Board discusses restricted access issues on Ridge Road

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wednesday, the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors discussed a citizen’s concern about what he says is illegal restriction of access to a section of Ridge Road.
Boyd “Butch” Merrifield, a resident of Asa McQueen Road, said he stands to inherit some property on Ridge Road in the area in question, but currently cannot access it due to a gate erected by a private citizen at the intersection of Asa McQueen and Ridge roads.
Merrifield said the road is closed by these gate at two points, the second is on the Hancock County side of the road. He said both gates have been there for a number of years. He alleges the gates were installed without permission from the federal government or any other entity.
The area in question is owned by the federal government as part of the John C. Stennis Space Center buffer zone, but several private citizens own land or mineral rights in the area.
If anyone wants to go down that section of road whether it be a county official or the police, they would have to contact the individual who holds keys to the gate, Merrifield said.
He also said the resident who erected the gate owns land in Hancock County, but not Pearl River County.
Merrifield said he has done extensive research in both Hancock and Pearl River counties to determine if the section of the road was ever officially abandoned, to no avail.
In 2000, the county submitted an index of county roads to the state, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin said. Any roads not on that list were considered private, he said.
According to that index, the county included parts of Ridge Road north of Asa McQueen, but not to the south, essentially making it a private road, Lumpkin said.
“I don’t see how they can keep any of you out of there,” Board Vice President Hudson Holliday said. “How can you close a road to public maintenance and shut people out that own property back there?”
Lumpkin said the quarter mile stretch was probably not included in the 2000 county road plan because it is on government property.
Board Attorney Joe Montgomery said he would have to conduct extensive research into the matter before the Board could reach a decision.
In a separate matter, the Board approved a motion to hold a second town hall meeting on April 6 at 6 p.m. at the Crosby Memorial Library in Picayune.
Lumpkin said the first meeting in Poplarville went well, and if there is a large crowd during the meeting in Picayune, a third meeting will be scheduled.
District I Supervisor Donald Hart said preparations are underway for the Pick up Pearl River County litter campaign on Saturday.
In case of rain, the event will be moved to April 22 to coincide with the Keep Poplarville Beautiful event.
Hart said a decision whether to hold the event on Saturday will be made either Friday night or Saturday morning. If the event is cancelled, that decision will be published on the Picayune Item’s Facebook page.
For more information about Wednesday’s Board meeting, read tomorrow’s Item.

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About Julia Arenstam

Staff Writer

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