Stone County Welcomes Major Housing Development

"I believe that people will look back on this for years to come and realize it is a great project for Stone County," said Duncan Hatten, as the board of supervisors' president praised the planned Horizon development.

Stone County neighbors crowded the courthouse lobby Tuesday to welcome the developers and get a glimpse of the project plans.

Robert Windham and his partners have big dreams for Horizon. The master planned community includes 8,000 homes on 5,000 acres.

"We believe this master plan community, Horizon, will go a long way toward helping South Mississippi meet its pressing need for housing," said Windham.

Prices for homes will start at $200,000. Windham promises something for everyone: from first time home buyers, to retirees, to people replacing storm damaged houses.

"And I just want to compliment you, and encourage the developers, encourage the public officials and the citizens of Stone County. This is a big deal," said Leland Speed, the former head of the Mississippi Development Authority.

Just a few months ago, some McHenry residents organized a petition drive opposed to the project. They voiced concerns about the county's ability to provide services to so many new residents. The board of supervisors' president says those concerns have been addressed, primarily by concessions from the developer.

Aside from building thousands of new home sites, Horizon developers have agreed to help pay for a sheriff's sub station, a fire house and new schools.

"I don't know of any real opposition to it now. I think whenever they realized what was going to happen and the scope of it, and the things they're going to do for Stone County, then I think everybody pretty much turned," said Hatten.

Developers are already busy building roads throughout the planned community. They plan on building the first Horizon homes in April.