Helena Neighbors Gear Up For Another Rezoning Battle

Some wooded property off Saracennia Road is once again the center of controversy in the Helena Community. Mississippi Export Railroad Company sees it as the future home of light industries. But many residents say allowing that to happen would ruin their quiet community.

Rev. C.D. Reams says "I have people in my home that have allergies and problems. If there's dust out there, it's going to affect them and us. I don't want their carcinogens, I don't want their cancer causing this that and the other. They just as soon put it somewhere else. I'd rather have a neighborhood. I can live with bratty kids, but I can't live with pollution I can't control".

Another resident says "I currently have 3 grandchildren that live basically off this main road. Their safety I'd be concerned for".

Last year, the Jackson County Board of Supervisors overturned the Planning Commission's recommendation to rezone the property from "agricultural" to "heavy industrial". Now, Mississippi Export Railroad is asking to rezone the area "light industrial".

Neighbors say rezoning the property to light industrial would allow for businesses like concrete, paper products and hardware manufacturers. Their biggest fear is not knowing what industries would be moving in.

Attorney Henry Pate represented the residents last year. He says "Who is your neighbor? What's your neighbor going to be? We don't know".

Linda Kracht says "They want to put things in here that they don't want to tell us. If they want to be good neighbors, they can be up front with us, because we've been up front with them".

The residents say last year, they fought against rezoning the property and won before the board of supervisors. They say they're ready to join forces and fight this battle again, even if it ends up in court.

William Crenshaw organized the neighborhood meeting.  He says "I think we have tentatively hired our attorney. He will represent us at the planning commission, the board of supervisors and if we have to go beyond the board of supervisors". Linda Kracht says "We are going to take it all the way".

The Jackson County Planning Commission is expected to hold a hearing on the zoning change request on July 17th. The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m. at the County Courthouse.

By: Trang Pham-Bui