Harrison County supervisors vote down proposed Lyman housing development

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS  (WLOX) - Lyman residents filled the supervisors' board room Monday, speaking out against a proposed new subdivision and apartment complex. Neighbors fear the project will devalue their homes while increasing traffic congestion and flooding concerns.

Larry Matrenga has built more new homes in Gulfport over the past 15 years than any other developer. But his latest proposed project off North Swan Road, just outside the city limits, has run into a fortress of neighborhood opposition.

"This is the second time this property has come to the board," said Zoning Administrator Patrick Bonck, at the start of the hearing Monday morning before supervisors.

Developer Matrenga wants to build 81 new homes and a 91 unit apartment complex on land off North Swan Road.

"We oppose this because it's going to change the character of our neighborhood. Most everybody around there has nice homes on acreage," said Lyman resident Harold Bixey.

"And I'm saying what you're going to do is devalue what I worked all my life for, by putting all this density around us," added resident Robert Flynn.

The developer's attorney told supervisors there's no escaping the fact that development is moving north.

"The city is certainly growing that way. And with the advent of hurricanes and living south of the interstate and the cost of insurance, it's going to continue to grow that way," said attorney Tim Holleman.

Developer Matrenga reminded the board he worked toward a compromise with neighbors by scaling back the plans.

"What we did is went back to the drawing board and we reduced the density level of the development itself by 50 percent," he told the board.

He said along with providing affordable housing, the development also means jobs in a tight economy.

"We could have had several hundred people here in support, just based on the jobs this development will create," said Matrenga.

"Our school system cannot handle it. The infrastructure cannot handle it. The traffic flow, the sewer, everything. That area was not designed for it," said Jennifer Meyers, a resident of Swan Lake Estates.

Supervisor Kim Savant represents the area.

"I would move that we would grant the appeal of the residents, based on the fact I do not believe a change in the conditions of the neighborhood has been proven," he said.

The unanimous vote against the project, was followed by clapping and cheers from the crowd of neighbors.

Developer Larry Matrenga has 10 days to appeal the board's decision to circuit court.

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