Gravel pit request denied by commission 7/12/2013

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 12, 2013

Gravel pit request denied by commission

By Rupert Howell

A request for a special exception to put a gravel mining  and wash operation with potential to add an asphalt plant near I-55 in Como was denied by Panola County’s Land Use Commission at their monthly meeting Monday evening at the Batesville Courthouse.

The motion made by member Wanda Carmichael in support of the request failed 3-5 following another motion to deny the request  made by Commissioner Sledge Taylor of Como also failed.

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The property is owned by Nolan West and APAC asphalt is working to obtain a 20 year lease of the site. At each of the previous three meetings, the site owner and APAC have been asked to provide additional details about plans concerning appearance along the interstate and traffic where trucks would enter Highway 310 east of the I-55 intersection.

“They’ve come across with everything we asked… We’ve asked them to do more than we’ve asked any other… ,” said commissioner Danny Jones prior to the motions.

Although commissioner Sledge Taylor said he agreed with Jones on the applicants’ efforts to provide information to meet the criteria, he said prior to his motion to deny that the plan as presented does not promote public welfare of the citizens, stating that he could not vote for the exception “with good conscience.”

“I hear people’s (individuals) concerns and there again, that doesn’t have any legal binding. The thing that we do here for a special exemption does,” he said referring to a statement made earlier by Jones.

A scathing letter to the editor in both county newspapers alleged to have been written by “Robert Freeman” is addressed in commentary starting on page 4A. The name and address on the letter are now thought to be fictitious.

Jones said issues coming before the commission are not about individuals  but the welfare of the community as a whole.

Although public good and changing the character of the neighborhood were mentioned, commissioners dwelled mostly on traffic flow at the site after APAC’s drawings of proposed berms with vegetation exceeded commissioners’ earlier request.

Commissioners focused on turn lanes at the site. Commission president Danny Walker asked APAC representatives if they would consider additional improvements to Highway 310 at the site.  APAC replied that it would only do improvements which MDOT has previously approved.

Walker asked if the company would be willing to make improvements beyond MDOT’s recommendation if allowed and were told, “No.”

The vote that followed sealed the fate of the request, but the decision can now appealed to the board of supervisors.