Water woes a hot topic

Published 10:43 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Water, water and more water was the theme of Tuesday night’s Lafayette County Board of Supervisors meeting as once again concerns over water pressure, fire protection and a high hazard dam were raised regarding the proposed Pebble Creek subdivision.

Last month, developer Brantley Cox was given a preliminary site plan recommendation from the county planning commission for the 33-unit development near The Lakes subdivision and below the Spring Lake dam. Many homeowners in The Lakes have expressed concerns about the proposed development due to the potential strain on the Punkin Water Association system, as well as the liability they would face if the levee at Spring Lake failed and flooded Pebble Creek.

Cox has been granted a will-serve letter from the water association stating that it can provide service to the proposed development. Cox has offered to upgrade the water system, as well as recently donated a lot to drill a potential well for the water system. He has also offered $25,000 to The Lakes homeowners association to assist in making improvements to the dam. He has also agreed to a recommendation from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency to raise the proposed homes three feet, as well as inform potential homeowners of the possible danger from the dam and the subdivision be placed on the emergency action plan.

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Clearing up rumors

Cox also laid to rest rumors the development will be government assisted housing or HUD. During the meeting, he informed those present that the three-bedroom homes would be valued in the $150,000 range and be approximately 1,500 square feet.

As he has done in previous public hearings and meetings, Jeff Williams with Williams Engineering reminded the supervisors and concerned residents that the development cannot move forward without state health department approval.

“That tap doesn’t get turned on until the health department approves it,” Williams said. “It is not a subsidized development.”

Concerns and no support

The Lakes HOA president David Martin and resident Mark Woods were again among those who voiced concerns with the development due to what they believe is water pressure and fire protection issues. Martin is concerned with infrastructure while Woods has issues with the ability to protect homes from fire.

District 1 Supervisor Kevin Frye said he could not support the development due to inadequate water flow from hydrants to provide fire protection.

“It’s a county-wide issue and I, for one, will not be in favor for any new subdivisions in the county if they can’t provide water for fire protection,” Frye said. “We have plenty that exist already because in the past we haven’t focused on that issue.”

Board President Jeff Busby agreed that improvements are needed, but pointed out the county has built two new fire stations in recent years, a third near The Lakes is in the works and is protected by a volunteer group of firefighters dedicated to saving lives and protecting the citizens of the county.

“The first thing these firemen do when they roll up on a scene is not hook up to a hydrant, but it’s to use water on their truck, go in and make sure the people are out of that structure,” Busby said.

Carl Sealy, who is against the project because it is below the dam, once again told the supervisors  that building the development in that area has the potential for disaster.

After nearly 45 minutes, Supervisor Kevin Frye made the motion to approve the development contingent upon fire flow in the fire hydrants meeting the international fire code standards. He didn’t receive a second from the rest of the board. Busby then made the motion for site plan approval and the board, with the exception of Frye, voted in favor. Supervisor Chad McLarty recused himself from the proceedings.