Dirt pit project worries Landon Road neighbors - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Dirt pit project worries Landon Road neighbors

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Neighbors along Landon Road in Harrison County are fighting a dirt pit project. They fear it will decrease property values, increase traffic congestion and allow dump trucks to ruin the road.

The issue becomes more interesting when one of the owners of the "dirt pit property" is former Harrison County Supervisor Larry Benefield. Many of the opponents are his friends and former constituents from District 2.

The planning commission voted 3-to-2 in favor of the dirt pit project, which goes to the Board of Supervisors on Monday.

Dirt pit opponents plan on bringing a strong message to supervisors. They lost one round when the planning commission voted 3-to-2 in favor of allowing the dirt pit on the 100 acre site.

"There's areas of the county where this dirt could be acquired without having to go to such a heavily populated and such a great development area as Landon Road," said Gordon Redd Jr., who lives on Landon Road and owns property adjacent to the proposed dirt pit.

Residents say traffic is busy and congested enough. The county adopted a weight limit on Landon Road several years ago.

"We've had Sam's come in since then. We've had two subdivisions come in. So, if it was dangerous then, why is it okay now?" said Ann Fore.

"Property values will decrease. No one is going to want to develop around a 50 acre hole. Ultimately, that's what it will be, a 50 acre hole. And nobody wants that. My concern is a lot of the residents in this area are not aware this is happening," said Redd.

Larry Benefield is part owner of the dirt pit property.

"We know there's going to be an increase in traffic. It's going to come on some road, somewhere. If it doesn't come from this site, it's going to come from another site. We think that this is the shortest route, so hopefully it will cause the least traffic problems," said Benefield.

He said it would be used solely for the development of a new highway.

"Would go on the new Highway 601 first phase. We're not interested in going into the wholesale, resale dirt business. It will be strictly dirt that might be used on that highway project," he said.

Opponents don't want dump trucks rumbling past their once rural homes.

"It's going to be loud and dirty and congested and I guess an increase for accidents could happen also," said Donna Redd.

"Nobody wants it in their backyard, and I understand that, I really do. But it's got to come from somewhere," said Benefield.

Opponents also worry that dump trucks hauling dirt could damage Landon Road.

Larry Benefield said if the project is approved, he and his partner will pay for any damage done by the trucks. They've also agreed to "no hauling" during times when school buses are on the road.

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