ESCATAWPA, MS (WLOX) - Several Escatawpa residents who live near a landfill say they've won their fight to prevent any more dumps from being built in the neighborhood for now. In a 3 to 2 vote Monday, Jackson County supervisors upheld the planning commission's decision to deny property owners Keith Ray and Marshall Smith's request to rezone the area.
"We want our residents to know we will protect them from unnecessary development or things that will disrupt their way of life," Supervisor Troy Ross said.
The crowd of Escatawpa residents erupted in applause following the board's vote to deny a controversial request to rezone a piece of land for industrial use near their neighborhood.
"In order to change the zoning, you need to have a genuine change in character of the neighborhood or you have to prove it was zoned improperly to begin with; I don't believe any of the criteria were met," Ross said.
"We are not opposed to retail close to us or commercial, but industry. Once they zone it industrial, even they couldn't control what came in," resident Gayla Crowley said.
The land located just north of Highway 63 sits right across from a local landfill. The residents feared the zoning change would lead to another dumpsite coming to their neighborhood.
"It stinks so bad out in our yard at times," said resident Don Waller.
"I have lived there most of my life and we own property there now, and I have 10 acres that won't be worth anything. It is just not what we want," resident Scott Wright said.
Property owner Marshall Smith was visibly upset that the county sided with the residents instead of him on this issue.
"I can't tell you it is going to be a Dollar General," Smith said. "I will tell it won't be a landfill or junkyard, any of that type. Even though that is in that zone, but I wouldn't sell it for that to anybody."
Supervisor Melton Harris agreed with Smith and voted in favor of the zone change.
"I think industrial rezoning will eventually happen in that area. I think the piece of property we are talking about will be very difficult to put a residential property in there and it is very difficult to put a landfill," Harris said.
The residents said they want to enjoy their neighborhood free of any unwanted businesses and the county's decision has helped them do just that.
"I think this one is the first round, but I think we won this one," a resident said.
Supervisor Troy Ross said the land owners can either appeal Monday's decision with the court system, or request a special use permit for more limited use of their property.