By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Residents of Raven Wood, a subdivision near Holcomb’s Crossing and adjacent to a “frac sand” plant, is asking a Pearl River County Circuit Court to issue a temporary restraining order, blocking any development on a five-acre piece of land that was dedicated to use only as “open space” by federal regulations.
The hearing on the temporary restraining order will be held in Circuit Court here on Thursday, before Judge Prentiss Harrell. Representing the Raven Wood residents is Gulfport attorney Skip Negrotto. Board of supervisors’ attorney Joe Montgomery will represent supervisors.
On Monday, Negrotto said his clients maintain that the five-acre piece of land near the south end of the 30-acre industrial site was built up during construction of the plant, and has caused flooding of Raven Wood residents’ property. The plant is reputed to have cost $30 million to construct and is supposed to employ 50 workers when fully operational.
In addition, the suit claims that the county, when approached by the Raven Wood residents in March 2012 about the flooding issues, was not forthcoming with information on the project, and that “petitioners have already suffered damage as their houses are beginning to crack from the constant pile driving from the construction and they suffer from emotional distress, afraid the next hard rain will flood their neighborhood and houses.”
Montgomery on Monday said he had no comment on the case because it was in court and will be before a judge on Thursday. “The judge will decide,” said Montgomery.
The suit also charges the county has failed to make timely upgrades, required by law, of its flood plain ordinance.
The county acquired the five-acre plot through a FEMA-MEMA hazardous mitigation process by acquiring an old trailer park named “Shady Oaks.” The trailer park was later torn down and the land reverted to what is called “open space use,” upon which no structures can ever be built, according to statutes covering the acquisition.
There are no structures on the property now, but plaintiffs say dirt was hauled in to build it up and a road constructed across it.
Negrotto claims the county built a road across it, so Alliance would have access to its property from J.J. Holcomb Road, the same road residents use to enter the Raven Wood subdivision.
Negrotto claims that over 100 violations of regulations, which are misdemeanors, have occurred since construction of the plant began, and the suit asks the court to require the county’s flood plain management administrator to execute and deliver the appropriate affidavits to the sheriff so the sheriff can arrest and prosecute “those violating the Flood Ordinance. . .”
Additionally, the suit wants the court to require:
— A complete survey of the five acres.
— Updating the county’s flood regulations to take into account the impact of construction at the Alliance plant on Alligator Branch and its flood plain.
— The Pearl River County board of supervisors to request that FEMA and MEMA conduct a full investigation of the issue.
— The county board of supervisors contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and request a full investigation of the matter and what impact the construction at the plant will have on drainage issues along Alligator Branch.
— The board obtain a report from MDEQ showing all permits issued regarding construction of the plant.
— The board reimburse the plaintiffs for all legal fees and expenses.