Residents crowded into the Stone County Supervisors' meeting Monday morning expecting to get more information about the Horizon project.
Supervisors' President Duncan Hatten told them, "I've received no telling how many calls, but we're not going to discuss it today. There's nothing to discuss until we get the economic impact study back."
But Wendy Randall who lives in McHenry, wasn't buying that.
"When this developer met down there with the people in McHenry, Mr. Parker and Mr. Patton basically told those folks down there that this is a done deal and nothing's going to happen. So is this study just placating the voters down there?"
District 2 Supervisor Bobby Parker responded, "I never told you, I never said a word about it. I think the developer said that it was probably a done deal. I didn't."
The economic impact study will look at how much money the project could generate for the county and how much the county will have to pay. Modular homes will go on 4,000 acres that will be developed in phases to meet demand. Hatten worries about the size of the homes and the tax revenues.
"A 750 to a thousand square foot home will not bring in enough money for the county to survive with all the services that we'll have to provide," says Hatten.
Hatten has many of the same concerns about the new development as a lot of the people in McHenry. They want to know how the county is going to pay for everything the homes will need like sewer, roads, fire and police protection and more schools.
Debbie Parker is passing around petitions against the plan.
"We don't want it. We don't have the schools. There's not going to be enough tax off these houses to help us in any way."
Wendy Randall says, "I've listened to his contractor talk. I've listened to his promises. He's made this county a lot of promises. The problem that I see is he is not contractually obligated in any way to meet any of these promises."
Developer Bob Windham calls Horizon a positive addition to Stone County that will meet the great housing needs. On the wooded acres, Windham will put homes that vary in size from 1,250 square feet up to 5,000 square feet. Starting minimum price will be $200,000.
Three modular homes are already on the land. They were built by the former landowner and Windham says construction workers will live in them and they will be torn down. Windham says his company will either pay for county services or help pay.
"We're going to put in all the roads, all the infrastructure which includes water, sewer, concrete curbs and gutters, fully amenitized with parks, recreational ball parks, soccer fields, basketball courts. All of that, plus the town center with retail shopping, banks, sub offices for tax collector and sheriff's office."
Windham is offering land in the development to build more schools and will help with construction costs. Windham says he will put up $1,500 for every lot that is developed and that means the county could receive up to $12 million.
Windham is the former owner of Gulf Hills in Ocean Springs and the old Royal D'Iberville Hotel, which is now Treasure Bay.
by Marcia Hill
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