Growing A Smart Harrison County

It's no surprise that South Mississippi has grown through the years. Just look at the signs road expansion Coast businesses and casino development. Now for the first time ever, leaders in Harrison county are working together to map out plans for future growth.Planning commissioners are beginning to sculpt a Smart Growth Plan for the 21st century.

Jeff Taylor of Southern Mississippi Planning and Development says, "transportation, drainage and flooding and the slow deterioration of downtown areas, all communities suffer the same thing" Solving those problems is his job. He's charged with helping Harrison County and its five cities grow smarter. Taylor says, "Smart growth is common sense type planning that looks at how to build density back to communities that are suffering from urban sprawl." The term 'urban sprawl' has been around since the 1950's when Americans began leaving cities and spreading out. As they moved people still demanded things like good roads, clean water and affordable utilities.

Fifty years later the same challenges face city and county leaders. Taylor says, "In the early days, it wasn't that important that these communities actually tie their plans together but as we grow and fill in and start touching one another, it makes more sense."

Wednesday's meeting was the very first brain storming session. They expect it to take at least a year to get a preliminary growth plan in place.