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Lafayette County Planning Commission, neighbors want some answers on project

Cass Dodgen was looking to erect a metal building for the lawn and landscape business he owns, but instead he left Monday night’s Lafayette County Planning Commission meeting without approval and more questions that need answers.

Dodgen owns MasterCuts, a lawn care service, and was seeking preliminary and final commercial plat approval for a 3,000 square-foot metal building located on 18 acres on County Road 202.

However, several residents in the community near the location voiced their opposition, including Jay Atkins. Gary Sneed and Ty Bauer, two other homeowners, also oppose the development. Atkins informed the commission that the building would be directly in front of his home and the widening of a driveway for the business is actually on his property. He claimed he had not been informed the driveway was to be widened before Monday’s meeting.

He also added that the building is behind three homes and MasterCuts would cross over private driveways to access their facility rather than construct the building on the front of the property they own on CR 202.

“They would rather encumber my property rather than use the property that butts the road to put their commercial building on,” Atkins said.

Atkins also told the commission that Dodgen is constructing a dam and “actively working on residential sites.”

“I don’t think they’ve submitted proper documentation to the planning commission,” Atkins said. “They’ve submitted for the commercial building, but the entire development includes a lake they’re currently constructing, a levee with a road on it, they dammed up my creek back behind my house. As far as I can tell, this falls under the subdivision regulations. I think the commission should require them to submit a plan for the entire development.”

Atkins added that he has also contacted the state and claims MasterCuts has not received state approval to build a lake or dam.

“A lot of T’s have not been crossed or I’s dotted,” Atkins said. “I think further investigation and inspection needs to take place.”

A hunting camp?

Dodgen said he was not aware until Monday that the driveway would have to widen to 20 feet after meeting with County Fire Coordinator Wes Anderson.

Dodgen said there is a chance that he and his wife may build a home on the property at some point, but he has no plans to develop the property.

“We’re going to plant some rye grass and deer hunt out there,” Dodgen said. He said the road on the property is strictly for access to use it for recreational activity.

He said there is a pond on the property and at some point the levee burst and “since we had a bulldozer out there, we asked the guy to fix the levee.”

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has rules and regulations for dams, including those on private property.

“We don’t know exactly what we want to do with the property,” Dodgen said. “The only reason we bought the property was the intention to build this building to run our business out of.”

“I thought we were here to talk about a shop being built,” MasterCuts co-owner Chris Blackwell said.

Project tabled

Commission Chairman TJ Ray acknowledged that Dodgen was only seeking commercial approval, but asked that “since the other has been put on the table, is the matter of an overall site plan applicable?”

“It seems to me there are a lot of ideas, that are probably good ideas, but they’re not reflective on this paper,” Ray said.

Bauer said he is worried about the water flow caused by the dam and is concerned the Army Corps of Engineers has not looked at the work that has been done.

“I would be more comfortable if everybody was protected when they did this,” Bauer said.

He’s also concerned about chemicals the business uses that could affect the groundwater in the area. Dodgen said chemical products for his business are subcontracted by another business in Saltillo and “the chemicals would not be on site.”

Eventually, Commissioner Dick Marchbanks made a motion to table the matter and Johnny Sowell seconded it and the issue was tabled.

“I want more information on the overall plan of the development,” said Sowell. “Have our county inspector look at it because there are a lot of conflicting views on what is happening out there.”