Council talks storm, state owned properties

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2017

During Tuesday’s meeting of the Picayune City Council the pending rainfall of Tropical Storm Cindy was discussed along with plans to attempt to take ownership of 55 state owned properties city workers maintain.
Assistant Fire Chief Barry Lee spoke to the Council about projected rainfall amounts and preparations department heads have made so far concerning the storm.
While winds won’t be much of a factor as the storm makes landfall over the course of the next few days, heavy rainfall is expected to cause flooding. Lee said that as of Tuesday evening, weather forecasts predicted four to eight inches of rain falling in the area. If the storm continues to sit in the Gulf of Mexico as it was Tuesday, those numbers could climb to as much as 15 inches. During Hurricane Isaac, about 17 inches of rain fell, causing major flooding in various areas of Picayune and Pearl River County. Lee said most of the rain was predicted to fall Wednesday.
Citizens who need them can obtain sandbags at the city barn, or at the Central Fire Station on South Loftin Avenue after hours. Public Works Director Eric Morris said by 5 p.m. Tuesday, 368 sandbags had already been distributed.
Lee said sandbags are also available at the Nicholson and Pine Grove Fire Departments.
The state owns 55 properties within Picayune due to unpaid back taxes, and it’s currently the city’s responsibility to maintain those parcels at the city’s expense, said Planning and Zoning Director and Code Enforcement Officer Tom Milar.
Last year, the Council approved a motion to request ownership of the 55 parcels since city workers are maintaining them, however the request was met with resistance. Milar said the state came back with a request for the city to pare down the list, leading Milar to chose six. Four of the properties have homes on them, while the remaining two are empty lots. Milar said the state seems agreeable to the amended list.
A number of the parcels are too small to build upon, so Councilor Larry Breland asked if the adjacent property owners would be interested in adding the smaller parcels to their own. Milar said that could be an option, but the adjacent property owners would have to agree to purchase the adjoining lots. Back in 2010 the Council approved a motion to grandfather in a number of smaller lots to allow homes to be built upon them. Milar said that move has led to a number of those lots being sold and developed.
The next Council meeting will be held July 5 at 5 p.m. A swearing in ceremony will preclude the meeting at 4:30 p.m.

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