The company says its plans to commercially develop almost 80 acres along I-10 will be impeded by a planned sewage facility, resulting in the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenue for Diamondhead.
Diamondhead, MS: Martha Cole of Cole Construction has acquired almost 80 acres of prime commercial development property North of I-10 in Diamondhead. Plans are to use the property to meet the demands of the public to have large retailers and lodging developed. Other communities have experienced tax revenue increases of more than $4 million annually for a single large retailer coming into their community.
The development is being hindered by the Diamondhead Water and Sewage District’s plans to put a sewer plant on 10 acres in the middle of the property.
Cole Construction’s position is that based on their experience, building the facility where it is currently proposed would most likely cause the reported 19 large scale retailers and hotels interested in coming into Hancock County not to consider the property as viable placement.
“There’s simply not enough room for a sewer plant to share space with big box retailers and hotels,” says Martha Cole, owner of Cole Construction. “DWSD is saying a 150 foot buffer will be enough, citing a case study from Daphne, Alabama. But the comparison is inaccurate because retail and hotels are more than 600 feet away from the facility in Daphne.”
The sewage treatment facility has been reportedly plagued with problems for several years including public concern over DWSD’s lack of information flowing to the public. Concerned citizen Tink L’Ecuyer filed an ethics complaint against the board, and was quoted in the media as saying “The obvious perception from the public is that the district is purposely hidingcritical business decisions from the public to prevent comment and involvement in these matters.”
Other issues include the lack of discussion for building a new facility on other property that would accomplish DWSD’s objectives and also lack of consideration for utilizing pumping to the Texas Flats that has been offered by the Hancock County Utility Authority at a minimal cost to Diamondhead.
Cole Construction is ready to invest in the area and bring much needed tax revenue, jobs and better quality of life to Diamondhead if this situation can be resolved. A spokesperson on behalf of Cole Construction will be presenting the issue on Thursday, June 11th at 6pm, where ultimately it will be requested that an economic impact study bedone with commercial development of the property as the priority and a request that DWSD go to FEMA and seek permission to keep the facility at its current location. The previous DWSD administration made statements that the currentfacility couldn’t be upgraded to accommodate the needs of the community. It has now been discovered that this was untrue, and that the current facility could meet the needs of the city. Further requests will be made to allow the public to be informed of all the facts surrounding this issue.