Gravel Pit Appeal

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 5, 2009


Appeal of gravel pit permit reaches supervisors Monday

By Billy Davis

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Panola County supervisors expect to hear an appeal Monday morning from Memphis Stone and Gravel, the company that failed to win a permit from the land development commission in May.

Memphis Stone is seeking 200 acres, currently owned by two landowners, for a gravel mining operation.

The company needs the special exception permit to operate a commercial business in an area that is zoned agricultural. The acreage is located in the Eureka community, located southeast of Batesville.

The board of supervisors expects an overflow crowd Monday in Batesville, so the main courtroom at the county courthouse has been reserved for the appeal, said board president Gary Thompson.

Supervisors will convene in their boardroom before moving to the courtroom, he said.

Memphis Stone is scheduled to speak at 9 a.m., according to chancery clerk Jim Pitcock.

The proposed gravel pit has generated controversy in Eureka, beginning in April when homeowners who lived near the site voiced opposition to the plan.

When Good Hope Road residents learned their road would serve as the main travel route for gravel trucks, homeowners in that community organized to oppose the company’s plan and circulated a petition.

The county board, when it convened Monday in Sardis, received a two-inch-thick stack of documents related to the proposed gravel pit.

Field Dew, who works for Mississippi’s Department of Health, passed out the information. In the packet, supervisors received minutes from the April and May commission meetings; the proposal that Memphis Stone handed out at its April meeting; and correspondence from Memphis Stone requesting a hearing in front of supervisors.

Also in the packet was a sketch showing South Panola school bus routes, and letters written to the land commission from residents who opposed the gravel pit. 

Several supervisors let out a nervous laugh, owing to the controversial topic, when Dew passed out the paperwork.

“I told them I usually don’t have anything to report but this time I do,” he explained afterward.

Dew acts as liaison for supervisors and the county land development commission. He also attends the supervisor’s meetings to report commission business.

All five supervisors, polled by The Panolian this week, said they had been contacted by parties for and against the proposed gravel operation.

“My main concern is the safety of the community and the condition of the road,” said Supervisor Kelly Morris, whose district includes the Eureka community.

Morris said he had been “hit hard” by opponents, by one landowner, and by Memphis Stone representatives.

Morris and other supervisors suggested their vote likely won’t be the final say on the matter. Past decisions related to zoning matters have gone to circuit court, and even to the state supreme court, on appeal.

District 5 Supervisor Bubba Waldrup said he would be absent Monday due to a long-planned family vacation.