Opinion – 4/28/2006

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 28, 2006

The Panolian: OPINIONS – Billy Davis

From the 4/28/06 issue of The Panolian :                 

Paving and ‘important’ business coming Monday

Panola County’s board of supervisors have an important matter before them that could come up for a vote Monday: deciding the future look of the parking lot at Stan’s Country Store.

"We’re going to discuss Stan (Holcomb) and his store, and then move on to important county business," Board of Supervisors president Robert Avant told me earlier this week.

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So the matter of paving or not paving the entire parking lot at Stan’s Country Store could finally be settled Monday, roughly a year and a half – 72 weeks – after the issue was seemingly settled by a county land commission vote.

The county commission in August, 2004 approved Holcomb’s application to operate a commercial business in an area zoned agricultural. One stipulation of that approval was a paved lot, a standard requirement per the county’s zoning guidelines.

To put the supervisors’ coming vote in perspective, the future of Panola County isn’t at stake here. Paving or not paving a parking lot pales in comparison to the news last week that Panola County is courting a large distribution company that could bring 400 new jobs to our community.

So maybe some perspective is needed on the matter. In a nutshell, the county land development commission instructed Holcomb to pave his parking lot but instead he appealed that requirement to the board of supervisors, which was his right, and supervisors agreed to his request, which is their right.

At least that’s one perspective.

A second perspective is that dozens of business owners followed the pave-your-lot rule of the county commission over a five-year period until one day a business owner decided he didn’t want to spend the money to pave his entire parking lot. After paving a small strip in front of the store, he appealed to the board of supervisors even though he had promised the commission he would pave the entire lot as they had instructed.

One particular friend and employee of that business owner- we’re continuing the second perspective – just happened to serve on a board that oversees the commission, and one day with a straight face he suggests that his friend has already abided by the commission’s rules, which came as news to the commission and the dozens of business owners across the county.

So Monday in Sardis the county supervisors may announce they’re standing by their earlier vote that sided with Holcomb which, again, is their right as overseers of the county land development commission.

What is sad about this situation is that the supervisors failed to address that dilemma until a business owner with political connections approached them. And when they finally addressed the issue of paved parking lots, they didn’t contact the commission about revisiting the paving requirement – they made up their own interpretation and let the commission read about it in the newspaper.

Maybe Stan Holcomb’s parking lot is a small, silly issue, and the supervisors really do need to "move on to important county business." One important issue is helping land that prospective industry, which would help bring 400 jobs to Panola County.

Bringing that industry to Panola County is more important than arguing over a parking lot unless, of course, the prospective industry sees something very encouraging about a community that applies its rules and standards uniformly, without regard to political connections.


(Billy Davis can be reached billyd@panolian.com or by writing to P. O. Box 1616, Batesville, MS 38696.) 


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