Once Lifted, Building Ban Proves Costly

In Hancock County, a building ban that has stifled development for four years has been lifted.

No new homes could go up in Jourdan River Shores until the waterfront community upgraded its sewer system. Now that that's happened, property owners are ready to get busy. But the wait has proven costly.

Two years ago, Richard Seeling had the foundation poured for a new home in the Jourdan River Shores community.

"I went to the office in Bay St. Louis. They told me I couldn't build anything because of the moratorium. I was just about to give up on it really," Seeling said.

With the construction ban now behind him, Seeling faces a new problem.

"I've got the same contractor who was going to build it, but he went up $7,000 because of the cost of materials."

Seeling isn't the only one who had to put off building plans. Jourdan River Shores resident Sharon Allen was looking forward to her sister building a house nearby.

"It just kind of put everything on hold cause she didn't know what to do. She didn't want to buy the property and have to sit on the property."

Hancock County Realtors have heard that a lot lately. Right now, there are more than 300 lots in the community ready to sell.

"We didn't have any sales of undeveloped land in 2004. In 2003, there was one sale. In 2002, there were no sales at all," Realtor Angela Strickler said.

The building ban was recently lifted after capacity at the community sewer treatment plant was increased from 60,000 gallons a day to 214,000 gallons. That allows an additional 80 homes to connect to the system.

The sewer system improvements in Jourdan River Shores are only a temporary solution. The Property Owner's Association says the permanent solution is to connect to the county's Wastewater Treatment Plant. However, no one knows when that might happen.

by Al Showers