Lamar County residents and leaders turned out in droves Thursday night to show their opposition to Hattiesburg potentially building a wastewater spray field in the county.
"My stance on it is we don't need it," Lamar County District 2 Supervisor Warren Byrd said. "It's going to kill any future development from Hattiesburg to the Purvis corridor."
Future development was just one of many concerns expressed in the meeting. Environmental quality for wildlife and live stock, health of families, decreased property values and how the increased irrigation required for a land application wastewater system would impact those who use well water were also brought up.
Another big concern for those at the meeting, who stands to make money off of the project?
"Big money and big influence are trying to have their way, and that just doesn't sit right with me," said Carl Bond, an organizer of the meeting and a resident who would only live 150 from the spray field border.
According to documents filed with the Lamar County Planning Department, of the more than 3,000 acres of land to be used in Lamar County, about 800 acres are owned by Tatum Timber Company, and the remaining acreage is owned by Soterra, LLC.
"Somebody is going to make a dollar off of it, and the dollar is what this is all about," Lamar County Justice Court Bill Anderson said.
Anderson was one of several county leaders at Thursday's meeting. Lamar County supervisors from districts 1, 2, 4 and 5 were all in attendance.
District 4 Supervisor Phillip Carlisle tried to explain the differences between this project proposal and the wastewater spray fields already in Lamar County.
"This one's a lot bigger," Carlisle said. "The one behind my house is quite smaller, and the one out there had no other choice."
The land application system proposal is on the Lamar County Planning Commission's agenda for Jan. 12, but even before that meeting, supervisors are already saying they plan to deny the conditional use permit proposal.
"When it comes to me, I'm going to vote no," Byrd said.
District 5 Supervisor Dale Lucas said, "When this comes before the board, I will vote no on this."
District 1 Supervisor Steve Lampton said, "I wouldn't vote for this. If it was the only vote I had, I wouldn't vote for this."
Carlisle said, "It would kind of be crazy for me to ignore your wishes."
Hattiesburg Ward 2 Councilperson Deborah Delgado was also at Thursday's meeting. Delgado was the only nay in the Hattiebsurg City Council's vote to overturn Mayor Johnny DuPree's veto of a land application system to treat and dispose of the city's wastewater.