Councilperson key wastewater vote despite family connection

Councilperson key wastewater vote despite family connection

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A Hattiesburg City Council member, who was a key vote in overturning Mayor Johnny DuPree's veto of a land application system for wastewater, has some family ties to part of the land proposed for the project.

The Hattiesburg City Council voted 4-1 Wednesday to move forward with a land application system for its wastewater. Ward 4 councilperson Mary Dryden was one of the votes in favor,

"I know there has been tremendous engineering study, and I have no preference about what land is used," Dryden said. "I know there's a system with multiple land owners, I have no preference about that at all."

However, Dryden has some connection to Tatum Timber Company. Dryden is related to the owner of the timber company through her daughter's marriage. According to documents filed with the Lamar County Planning Department, Tatum Timber owns 788.9 acres of the more than 3,000 proposed in Lamar County that could be used for wastewater spray fields.

"There is one parcel of land that has been looked at, and I, we have not, as a council, we have not been given the parcels of land," Dryden said. "Those will all have to be looked at separately. If there is a piece of land to which I have any personal connection, I would not be involved in any discussion or voting on anything that would involve a person who is related to me. I have no connection to any of this land. I have nothing to gain from any of the land."

According to the planning commission's documents, Tatum Timber applied for a conditional use permit on Dec. 9, 2015. Included in those documents are parcel numbers and descriptions of the land owned by the timber company that are part of the proposed land application project.