PURVIS, Miss – Residents who live on Friend Road just outside of Hattiesburg say only one speeding ticket has been given in their neighborhood in the last 43 years. They claim all could change if the Lamar County Planning Commission approved the rezoning of their neighborhood.
The discussion was focused on building 16 rental homes on 4 ½ acres, “People do need rentals, but let them go in a place where there’s rentals,” said Louise Norton.
Monday evening residents petition their neighbors to attend the meeting in protest of the rezoning. Tuesday afternoon the room was packed with people who live on or near the proposed rezoning site.
Over 10 concerned citizens offered their opinion to the Planning Commission. Several reasons beyond safety concerns were mentioned; such as the disposal of wastewater, flood waters overtaking the road, and an increased crime rate.
The property purchaser, Richard Hyatt said he’s developed several other properties such as Barton Park and Lost Orchard; these new homes would mimic their design. However, residents like Delia Rollins, still disapproved, “I’m sorry sir I just don’t think this is a good move, okay.”
Mr. Hyatt attempted to clear up a misconception of people who rent. He said he rents to people with varied backgrounds such as bankers and secretaries, “One lady said it’s because people can’t afford to buy. It’s not because they can’t afford to buy. They are in a transition area in their life and they want to rent,” said Mr. Hyatt.
The opinions of the neighbors on the Mayberry like road were unanimous, “…It’s a community, it’s a place, and it’s a home, said Norton.
Terrie Johnson has lived in the area for 15 years, “You talk about their being a need for rentals. Well why people would want to rent to people in this day in age with bad credit is beyond me.”
Williams Myers said their main concern is not the development but bringing in a culture of high turnover and people who may not be invested in their home, “We think the first renters would probably be the nicest people you could imagine and be around but later on the renters get few and far between and the fella drops his qualifications then the renters bring in crime rate.”
The Lamar County Planning Commission denied approval of building the new homes, but that’s only a recommendation. The final decision will be made July 6th at 9a.m. by the Board of Supervisors.