Environmental Impact Study Public Hearings

By 2020, there will be about 70,000 more people living in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson Counties. That projection comes from a 500 page Army Corps of Engineers study.

Along with population growth, the study also looks at other growth that will affect the environment for many years to come - especially large scale developments like casinos.

A public hearing Tuesday night at the Coliseum Convention Center gave South Mississippians a chance to tell the Corps how they think the future should take shape. The Army Corps presented the findings of its massive environmental impact study to a crowd of about 150.

Bob Bozeman came from Diamondhead to voice his opinions on growth.

"I've been concerned about the expansion at Dupont Delisle, in particular the water, the surface water and ground water."

Cherie Schulz of Lizana also worries about the environment and what she calls too much growth.

"I think it's too much, especially along the beach. People moved here to see the beach, to be able to walk to the beach, and there's a lot of stuff in the way now."

Gerald Miller, with the EPA, says the Army Corps' environmental impact study focuses on large scale growth and development since 1992.

"In this case it's focused on the casino industry. You have to understand that these things have almost theme parks in nature. They're like a small city. They operate 24/7 and they have an impact that transcends just the dripline of the roof."

After years of studying large developments and their impact, the Corps will take public input and tweak its plan for the future.

There's another public hearing on Thursday in Bay Saint Louis at the Hancock County Civic Center at 7:00. The public is urged to attend.