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Oktibbeha plan questioned at supes meeting


Micah Green/Dispatch Staff



STARKVILLE -- During a meeting of the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Monday, Executive Director of the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District Rudy Johnson fielded questions concerning the progress of a comprehensive plan for the county. 


The board also briefly answered questions on the unclaimed lease of the Oktibbeha County Lake and set a date for a public hearing.  


Johnson, whose organization was granted $225,000 and contracted with the county on the comprehensive plan, explained developing a comprehensive plan is a lengthy undertaking requiring the examination of countless factors and the process would move faster, with involvement of the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District.  


"(CMPDD) has five comprehensive planners," Johnson said. "In the Golden Triangle, we only have one. We need their assistance." 


Roy Montgomery spoke to the board, on behalf of the Oktibbeha County Land Use Coalition, noting he felt the county's time was being wasted on a project on which he saw no advancement.  


"The plans were approved on Oct. 15, 2007," Montgomery said. "It is now four years after those plans were approved and two years after the contract was signed. Because of that delay, we have had construction that would have probably been denied." 


Johnson apologized for problems the homeowners faced and took sole responsibility. He said he realized a less detailed plan could be drawn up and passed in the interim, but said he refused to make the county pay for the planning, which requires a number of man hours, more than once. 


"I'm not going to give the county something we have to go in and change in six months," Johnson said.  


Montgomery said he did not want to see development cease in the county, but stressed the importance of being able to regulate it. 


"We are not against development, but unpatrolled, unregulated development can be harmful," he said. "As it stands now, developers can do anything they want." 


Johnson said the CMPDD should be able to start work on the comprehensive plan in three months. 


In other business, the board set a public hearing for the Oktibbeha County Lake lease issue for 6 p.m. on June 4 in the Oktibbeha County Courthouse. 


The lease, between the Oktibbeha County School Board and the Mississippi Wildlife and Fisheries department, expired 14 months ago. The public recreation area has been closed since the 16th section lease expired. Howard said he recognized the importance of the lake to the county and wanted to act quickly to find a new leaseholder. 


"That lake serves a lot of people. I sat out there Saturday and nearly 20 cars with boats on the trailers pulled up to the locked fence and had to turn right around," he said. 


The board also agreed to consider a request from the Oktibbeha County Sheriff's Office for portable walkie-talkies for each officer.  


Constable Shank Phelps said the OCSO would not be coming to the board with this request if he did not think it was necessary.  


"I am a firm believer in saving money, but (communication between officers) is a need, not a want," Phelps said. 


District 4 Supervisor Daniel Jackson thanked the officers for their service and told the Phelps he felt the OCSO deserved the assistance.  


"I know it's pricey, but they are out there risking their lives everyday. The least we can do is help them stay in communication," he said.




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