Saucier Resident "All Smiles" Following Industrial Park Vote

Saucier residents fighting a proposed industrial park in their neighborhood, got a favorable vote Monday from Harrison County supervisors.

A divided board reversed a planning commission recommendation to re-zone 500 acres of timber land, from agricultural to industrial.

The vote to deny the development, came as a surprise to many. The woman who led a petition drive to oppose the industrial park said some people told her, "you'll never succeed".

Despite such comments, she never gave up. Now, neighbors who fought the project are all smiles following their victory before the board of supervisors.

"That's why we're elected. To make the tough decisions," said supervisors William Martin, just minutes before the final decision.

Before the vote, the board heard from the opposition's attorney and the deputy director for the Harrison County Development Commission.

Five hundred acres of former International Paper timber land was identified as a possible site for a new industrial park some seven years ago.

"Saucier is not going to be the same as it is today because it's not the same as it was five years ago or 15 years ago. And I think this is the right thing to do for the county," said supervisor Larry Benefield.

Supervisor Martin supported the rezoning as an example of "smart growth".

"To try and plan as much as you can in the future. To avoid the problems that we've had prior to zoning," Martin explained.

Board member Connie Rockco prefers the development commission spend more money on improved water and sewer to attract industry.

"With those issues, coupled with the fact that I've had trouble with the management of the development commission and how they run their business, I vote no," she said.

Neighbors who passed petitions and fought the project were surprised yet overjoyed with the board's decision. They had voiced concerns about quality of life issues and suggested there are other large tracts of land available for such a project, further away from any people.

Just moments after the vote, the big smiles among neighbors told the story.

"Lots of long hours. Lot of hard work. Lot of walking roads. But I made it. That's all that counts. Maybe the neighborhood will settle back down and be happy again," said Mary Hancock, who helped organize the neighborhood opposition.

The deputy director of the Harrison County Development Commission, Kim Compton, had no comment following the board's vote. The commission now has ten days to appeal the decision to circuit court. The development commission board will discuss the issue at it's meeting Tuesday afternoon.