Subdivision Developer Meets Environmental Challenges

Glynn Illich wants to develop the nicest neighborhood in Long Beach. He's building an upscale subdivision on some 16 acres at the corner of Espy Avenue and Pineville Road.

One of the challenges he faces is something familiar to many developers along the coast. A small part of the property is wetlands, which requires a series of permits.

Several people warned Glynn Illich that dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers would be difficult. But he wasn't intimidated by the rather complex process of wetlands mitigation. Like a growing number of South Mississippi developers, his whole approach is "environmentally friendly".

"We're still looking at the first week in June to have this project completed," said Glynn Illich as he toured the subdivision now under construction.

Belle Terre Estates is being built on the site of an old pecan orchard. Nearly three acres on the north side of the subdivision are wetlands. That means the developer had to buy some nine acres of wetlands elsewhere as mitigation.

"Basically us purchasing three acres for every one that we use. Even though the area is still kind of questionable, if it was even wet, we didn't even go there. We just said, guys what will it take to get this done," said Illich.

He views the Army Corps of Engineers as friend rather than foe. His own concern for environmental protection includes preserving as many trees as possible.

"We were putting the road down and came across this absolutely beautiful pecan tree right smack in the middle of the road. And opposed to just leveling that tree, we're going to break the road right around it if we can get that tree to live," said the developer.

Two prominent oaks were also spared.

"We actually moved our road over to save those two oak trees. And I'm no tree hugger, don't get me wrong. But protecting the environment is important. And that's something we wanted to do and something we're going to do," he explained.

Getting the necessary permits from the Army Corps and the DMR took about nine months. Illich understands the need for protecting the environment and cooperating with those agencies which ensure that protection.

"This area is going to be booming. And it's give and take on the balance here. We're going to do the best we can by preserving as much as we can, purchasing wetlands in other areas and saving those areas. And so it can work, there's a balance here as long as we all just work together. And that's what we did," he said.

Glynn Illich says the oversight of the Army Corps extends beyond wetlands protection. Along with surveying the property for wetlands, a separate team inspected the land for historical concerns -  looking for Indian bones or relics. None was found.