Highway 67 cuts through Biloxi, D'Iberville and some unincorporated areas of North Harrison County. At the meeting, residents had the chance to learn about a plan that's been put together to convert State Highway 67 into Scenic Highway 67.
"There are a number of advantages. It can improve roadway safety and maintain the beautiful appearance of this scenic corridor," said Dr. Jennifer Cowley, a meeting organizer.
About half the people at the meeting own property along the highway. Many of them had received an unsigned letter, advising them they could lose their property rights should the highway be converted into a scenic byway. Organizers of the meeting say that's just not true.
"The plan respects people's property rights. We're not asking people to give up more land. We're asking what can we do in working with you, to enhance your property, to enhance property values, and enhance the corridor as a whole," Cowley said.
Randy Williams and his wife own about 130 acres of property along 67. As they left the meeting, they were not quite sold on the idea of converting 67 into a scenic byway, at least not without a few adjustments of the current plan.
"Right now, they're wanting to talk about the quarter mile area, and let's get it down to whatever, if it's 20 feet they want to control along the scenic byway let's go ahead and talk about 20 feet they want to control. Basically, it takes 120 acres and puts it under their control if they take that away from me, so, that's a lot of, $2,300 a year in land taxes on that property," Randy Williams said.
Residents at the meeting gave their input on key elements of the plan through electronic voting. The results of the voting will be used as a final draft plan is drawn up. That plan is expected to be considered by MDOT and the Harrison County Board of Supervisors next month, but the state legislature has the final say.