Jackson County Supervisors Discuss Harbor Expansion

Jackson County supervisors voted Monday to delay a controversial expansion of the Ocean Springs harbor until the harbor commission updates its long range plan and includes public input.

The commission wants to add 12-boat slips near Shearwater Bridge.

Bird lovers and other opponents collected hundreds of petition signatures to stop similar plans six years ago.

The latest expansion talk sparked similar concerns.

The trees near Shearwater Bridge are a popular roosting spot for various birds. The trees are alongside the site the harbor commission is considering adding the dozen boat slips.

The chairman wants the chance to draw up some specifics.

"If we get a chance to present what we plan, maybe it would be more palatable. I don't know. But we'd like to at least have that opportunity. And then see where she comes down," said harbor commission chairman, Brad Lemon.

"I was very surprised. I had taken them at their word. I sort of feel like this is a little bit of betrayal of public trust," said Ocean Springs resident, Henry Furr.

Furr lives just up the hill from the proposed harbor expansion. He helped organize a petition drive to stop a similar project six years ago. Furr says the birds are among many concerns.

"Security, privacy, noise, litter. And then also as a property owner I'm concerned about the really low quality of the whole development that's been done all around the harbor," said Furr.

There is talk of a compromise in this harbor controversy. A way to add the boat slips without destroying the bird sanctuary.

"We could save what trees we needed to save and not pave, but improve the surface parking with shells or something such as that, in that nature, make it where we could all continue to live with it," said Lemon.

Susan Weller lives close to the harbor. She says there's room for compromise.

"It's OK with me for the 12 boat slips to go in. The only problem with the boat slips going in is I think that not all the trees need to be clear cut in order to put the boat slips in," said Weller.

County supervisors won't consider any plans to add more slips until the harbor commission updates its long range plan and includes public input in that process.