January 31, 2015 at 3:52 AM CST - Updated July 22 at 1:55 AM
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX)
Some residents who live on Old Kiln-Picayune Road in Hancock County say a businessman is operating an illegal dirt pit in their neighborhood. They say being woken up by the sounds of heavy equipment has been a real nuisance, and the dust created by the dump trucks coming in and out of the operation is unbearable.
County supervisors say they have issued several cease and desist orders to the owner, which they say have been ignored.
A parade of dump trucks travel in and out of a narrow dirt and gravel roadway several times a day. They haul loads of dirt excavated from property owned by businessman Kevin Haas.
It's an operation nearby residents say is tough to live with.
"It's really bad whenever there is not a car coming through and they don't make the stop for the turn. They just throw the dust up, and it just covers our community," said Jennifer Laneaux.
"As soon as they go over there, all that dust comes to my house. It's on my house, comes in my house. It's bad for all of our lungs. I keep a sinus infection all the time. Sometimes the sinus infections get so bad I get sores all over my face," said Darlene Fowler.
It's a problem residents say they've dealt with for nearly two years.
"In the morning time you can't sleep at all. You hear how those trucks sounds coming in and out of there? That's just how it sounds in my house," said Charlie Necaise.
The Hancock County Board of Supervisors said it has issued several stop work orders to the property owner.
"To date, Mr. Haas hasn't been compliant with that," said Gary Yarborough, Board Attorney for Hancock County Supervisors.
Yarborough said the property is not zoned to operate a dirt mining business.
"We're presently seeking injunction relief through the court system trying to curve the issues on the property and to the surrounding neighborhood and to the county itself. So, it is in litigation," explained Yarborough.
Haas declined an on camera interview but told WLOX News he's not operating a dirt pit, he's simply digging a lake that will eventually be stocked with fish. He said that was well within his legal right on his 80 acre tract of land.
He then pointed WLOX News to a ten acre dirt mining operation just down the street, where he says county supervisors permitted it to operate in a residential neighborhood a couple of years after Hurricane Katrina.
"Us out here, we don't have any money to fight it, so we're just out here taking it," said Fowler.
The penalty for violating a stop work order can be up to $1,000 a day. Yarborough said as part of the county's civil suit against Haas, the county is seeking to collect the penalties.