HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Harrison County supervisors heard arguments Monday morning from both sides of a controversial dirt pit project.
A contractor wants to operate a dirt pit on a nearly 100 acre site off Highway 53. Dirt pit projects often fall under the "NIMBY" category, or "not in my backyard." And such is the case with this plan.
Despite concerns from opponents, contractor Chris Fore tried to convince supervisors of the economic development the project represents.
"We've got two very large projects coming up. And we've got an opportunity to keep the work right here at home, right here in Gulfport, Mississippi. Not to mention, this is what we've done for generations," Chris Fore told supervisors.
Fore says his land off Highway 53 is well suited to meet the requirements of upcoming projects like the port expansion and port connector road, which will require massive amounts of fill dirt.
"There's going to be ten million tons of dirt on that project. The bidders list of the project, there's 33 bidders. Fifteen of them are from out of state guys. Fifteen. Economically, all that dirt can be provided in Harrison County, all the tax dollars can stay in Harrison County," he explained.
Land owners in the area worry about traffic safety on the winding roadway. They're also concerned that today's dirt pit, could become tomorrow's hurricane debris landfill.
"You'll notice what he said. The 'plan' is not to use it as a refuse area. It's not the plan. But plans can be modified quickly," said Albert Necaise, who owns 60 acres next to the proposed dirt pit.
Brian Necaise lives adjacent to the proposed dirt pit. He and dozens of other neighbors signed petitions opposing the project.
"There's more residential joining this property on 53 than there is the Landon Road site. There's six or seven residential properties that people live on that actually join this property," Necaise said.
"To find somewhere that's not a county road. That's unpopulated. That affects the least amount of citizens. And for that dirt to be suitable for fill or structural fill is a rarity. And we've been able to do that," Fore declared.
After hearing the arguments, supervisors upheld the planning commission and rejected the dirt pit. Chris Fore can still appeal that decision to circuit court.