New Hope approved to house trailers

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Supporters of New Hope Baptist Church filled the seats at Monday’s county supervisors meeting to ask that the board approve church property as a site for mobile homes to be placed as housing for hurricane evacuees.

In Adams County, &uot;shelters are closing this week, and these people need some place to go,&uot; said Bishop Stanley Searcy, pastor of the church, which is located on Morgantown Road near U.S. 61 North.

And they got their wish &045; with some caveats.

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It wasn’t clear as of Monday morning when the Federal Emergency Management Agency could locate such mobile homes in Adams County. A FEMA representative at Monday’s meeting said he would know more about such plans after a Tuesday meeting in Jackson.

But the motion supervisors approved Monday set forth a host of rules for when that does happen.

The motion allows New Hope &045; and any other properties in the county &045; to be used as a site for the FEMA trailers and stipulates that background checks be performed on applicants.

The motion also allowed the Supervisors to set standards for such temporarily mobile home parks.

According to Chancery Clerk Tommy O’Beirne those standards, which supervisors set later in their Monday meeting, include the following:

4That FEMA be required to maintain the parks during the period (up to 18 months) they will be open and to remove the mobile homes and related temporary infrastructure at the end of that period.

4That no more than 25 mobile homes be placed at each tract; that no one than 150 such mobile home be placed in Adams County, including the City of Natchez; and that the mobile home parks be located at least two miles apart.

4That the mobile home parks be open only to evacuees currently in Adams County.

Searcy said he asked for New Hope to be designated as a site because that church applied first in Adams County for the mobile homes and because such housing is desperately needed by hurricane evacuees with nowhere else to go after area shelters close.

The motion, with all its additions, covered concerns some supervisors expressed during the meeting. Supervisor Henry Watts said he worried about hundreds of people &uot;being crammed together in one space.&uot;

He also wanted to make sure the economic impact of the location of such homes in Adams County was spread around by letting privately-owned mobile home parks and county-owned land be used as locations for the homes.

Searcy contended that such an arrangement would split up families. &uot;These families don’t want to be dispersed across the county,&uot; he said.

Supervisor Sammy Cauthen said the quickest way to get evacuees into housing would be to use existing mobile home parks.

&uot;We need to look at (our) overall mission,&uot; said supervisors President Darryl Grennell. &uot;It’s not about a dollar sign &045; it’s about helping people.&uot;

Supervisor S.F. &uot;Spanky&uot; Felter said he wanted background checks on evacuees applying for the homes, but Supervisor Thomas &uot;Boo&uot; Campbell pointed out that if crime occurs as a result of the parks, &uot;we’ve got the sheriff to deal with that&uot; without such checks.