LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - The Lamar County Planning Commission met with county leaders and residents Tuesday to hash out details and concerns surrounding the possibility of a new Walmart Supercenter being built in the county.
The planning commission voted to table the comprehensive hearing issue until the December hearing.
It was a full house at the meeting and most of the residents in attendance were from Canebrake and Lake Serene neighborhoods.
Seven on Your Side spoke to many residents who said they are overwhelmingly against the Walmart proposal.
City Planner Michael Hershman told the group to not focus on the tenant of the space and just that it is being zoned "big box retail."
Lamar County Engineer Don Walker said he will review the site plan and said he has not seen the final plan yet.
Benny Prestridge, president of the planning commission, asked a representative of the retailer what the plan was for the site.
A representative from the project said he does not know.
Attorney Sam McHard came forward and said he represents about 60 Canebrake residents.
McHard said Lamar County zoning plan was established six years ago "by law" and required to have a comprehensive plan that looks ahead 20-25 years.
McHard also pointed out that the applicant in the application said there was a need for a big box retailer in the area because there was not one nearby.
But McHard said there are five big box retailers in the area and the argument in the application is invalid. He said there is no public need as presented.
McHard said he has also spoken to realtors and said they told him property values for homes nearby development could drop as much as 40 percent.
He also mentions noise, light and air pollution as other factors that could change the area.
"It would absolutely destroy the property value of patrons in Canebrake," McHard said.
McHard moves on to crime statistics for the area and said the county will not have the same resources for police staff to patrol.
He said Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel does a great job, but does not have enough deputies on staff.
He also lists possible sewer, water and traffic issues as other concerns and said it is not appropriate to build the big-box retailer.
Walker added that traffic and drainage are two big issues for him to consider. He said Canebrake already has a drainage issue.
Residents also expressed their concerns for the possibility of a new Walmart.
A resident at the meeting said that a Walmart with a grocery store and pharmacy may cause problems for Corner Market and the new CVS on Hwy 98.
Another resident said she is a senior citizen who cannot afford to have her home devalued and just wants to be able to watch her grandchildren grow up and a mother at the meeting asked the board to consider their children and because crime rates could increase.