Harrison County supervisors approve dirt pit project - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Harrison County supervisors approve dirt pit project

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -  Opponents of a proposed dirt pit off Landon Road lost their appeal to the Harrison County Board of Supervisors on Monday. Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to support the planning commission's decision to grant a "conditional use" permit for the 50 acre dirt pit.

But that's not the end of the battle. Those fighting the project say they'll take the issue to court.

As we first reported Friday, former Supervisor Larry Benefield is part owner of 100 acres off Landon Road that he and his partner would like to use for a 50 acre dirt pit. The dirt would be used solely for the construction of Highway 601, the so-called "port road."

Monday morning, more than a dozen dirt pit opponents filled the board room in support of the appeal.

Dirt pit opponent Marvin Kourey told supervisors it's not a case of "not in my backyard."

"This is Harrison County's front yard. This is where all of our growth is going on in the district. This is the front yard. It'd be great if it was the back yard way up off Saucier-Vance Road, but it's not," he told the board.

Gordon Redd Jr. lives across the street from the proposed dirt pit.

"The wishes of the citizens was not taken into this. And I certainly hope that in your efforts to look at this today, you'll put more wisdom into it, you'll put more foresight into it. And you'll realize we do not need a 50 acre gaping hole off Landon Road in that area," said Redd.

Project applicant, Larry Benefield, says the project will not leave behind a giant hole.

"It's not going to be a hole as exists on the property today. It will actually become wetlands of Bayou Bernard, so there's not going to be a hole to fill," he said.

Pat Fore is in the dirt pit business. He told supervisors about the mess they can expect.

"The dust. You can't control dust. I've been in the business for years. You can't control dust over 50 acres. It's impossible. You can control the haul road, but that's it," said Fore.

"When you all rezoned Harrison County, I applauded it. Because I knew I could build my home and not have a hog farm next door to me. There are reasons for us to have zoning laws," said John Simmons, who lives near the proposed site.

Benefield reminded neighbors that Highway 601 is the only project the dirt pit would supply.

"If 601 is not built, not one shovel of dirt will come off this property," he told them.

After the meeting, opponents said they'll take the next step, which means appealing the board's decision to court.

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