Gravel Pit

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 15, 2011

County postpones gravel pit decision

By Billy Davis

Panola County supervisors heard an appeal Monday from landowners unhappy with hauling restrictions approved last month by the county land commission.

Several sighs were heard in the boardroom when the county board voted unanimously to table a decision until they discuss the appeal.

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Landowners Clay Baker, Lamar Johnson, and Martin and Rita Willingham are appealing after the land commission voted to restrict them to 15 loads of gravel from their gravel pits.

“I have never had the number of people limited that I can preach to,” said Baker, a Methodist minister.

Rita Willingham asked supervisors if the county also sets load limits for hauling cows, beans, and cotton.

Oxford attorney Roy Percy, who represents citizens opposed to the gravel pits, said the organized opposition felt it had reached a “reasonable compromise” on the matter and decided not to appeal.

“Nobody’s happy with a compromise,” he said. “Everybody’s got to give up something.”

Percy compared his clients’ agreement to compromise with the belief of his clients that the landowners have returned for a second attempt after the failed application of Memphis Stone and Gravel.

“It’s just another attempt to get that same permit,” he said. “It’s another bite at the apple.”

The Board of Supervisors also heard from Elliot and Britt engineer Steven Gray, who reported that at least two inches of asphalt would need to be spread on Good Hope Road to handle 60 gravel trucks a day with an 8,000-pound load limit.

Good Hope Road’s current shape can handle about seven trucks a day, he said.

The asphalt work would cost approximately $400,000, Gray reported.

Eureka Road, a second proposed haul route, is in better shape to handle the gravel trucks, said the engineer.  

If the landowners are approved for the gravel pits, they would be required to present a bond for upkeep of the road, board president Gary Thompson also suggested.

Thompson also pointed out to Johnson that a special exception permit, if granted, could not be handed off to a new landowner if the property is sold.

“It does not go with the land,” Thompson said. “It goes with the landowner.”

Johnson has told land commission earlier that he had not ruled out selling his tract and said Monday that he may sell the property to the “highest bidder.”