HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A proposed dirt pit has caused quite the controversy in Harrison County, and brought a crowd to the Harrison County Courthouse for a Board of Supervisors meeting Monday.
"I was a bit disappointed, a lot disappointed," President of the North Gulfport Land Trust Rose Johnson said.
Johnson spoke to the board on behalf of her neighbors hoping to convince the board to vote no on the proposal.
Johnson said her neighborhood has had to deal with flooding problems in north Gulfport for years.
"The communities that are downstream are the ones that will be affected the most," Johnson said.
The dirt pit would be placed on 25 acres of land at the end of Klondyke Road. In order to get dirt, the water in the ground will have to be drained into a canal. Neighbors fear that water will end up flooding their homes.
North Gulfport resident Mary Spinks Thigpen said, "When you harm hundreds of other people, that's not good. They don't live in our area and get flooded."
The owner of the property, John Lankston, and his engineer Bobby Kneasal argued that this project, while for personal gain, will actually help the flood prone neighborhoods. Kneasal said at the end of five years, the dirt pit will become a retention pond.
"This is a good seed, like we said before, in starting a project that will eventually help the area," Kneasal said.
Without concrete information proving this project will help flooding, neighbors were not convinced.
"Give us some additional information," Harrison County resident Alan Weatherford said. "If it's going to significantly reduce flooding in that area, then I'm in support of it."
Despite reservations, the Board of Supervisors gave the go ahead to Lankston.
Supervisor William Martin said, "This stage is not where we gather that information. When we get to the DEQ and the Corps of Engineers, then we will have experts that will answer a lot of these questions."
"If we can in any way mitigate that flooding," Supervisor Marlin Ladner said, "and be very helpful to 28th Street residents and that area, then I'm willing to do it."
The proposal must now go before the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Army Corps of Engineers. Residents said they will continue to fight against the dirt pit in their community.