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Dalewood sewer district approved

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
April 17, 2001
About 50 people turned out Monday for a second public hearing on a proposed Dalewood sewer district. After the hearing, Lauderdale County supervisors voted 3-1 to form the district.
District 1 Supervisor Hank Florey abstained from voting because he is a Dalewood property owner. District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell cast the lone vote against the district.
Supervisors accepted a petition filed by the Dalewood Property Owners Association and voted to form the district last month, then rescinded the motion because the petition was found to be unlawful.
Ed Gennette, Dalewood Property Owners Association president, said a new sewer system is the only way to prevent both hazardous waste in Dalewood lake and liability for the association.
He said a new system would increase property values.
He said the proposed district qualifies for a Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality loan at a 2.5 percent interest rate much lower than commercial interest rates of 6.5 percent for the new system, but they would have to act before June 30 to get the lower rate.
He said the problem is "not going to go away" and disease in Dalewood's water is "inevitable."
Charlie Busler with the Mississippi Department of Health said a Mississippi child died of E. coli last year and 15 people fell ill with salmonella from sewage in a recreational lake elsewhere in the state.
Thomas Corn spoke against the district. He said it is a conflict of interest that the association's attorney, Greg Malta, and the board of supervisors' attorney, Rick Barry, are in the same firm.
Corn said Mississippi law says everyone within Dalewood property lines will have to join the district if it is formed. He said he wrote DEQ about water samples and asked if a public notice of pollution or a proposed closing of Dalewood lake had been issued and got no response.
He said a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling in 1986 said language as to a petition's intent must appear on pages with signatures and the language does not appear on the association's newest filed petition.
Raymond Huffmaster said despite association officials' comments, members never got to vote on whether to develop a sewer district. He said members haven't been given much information. He wanted to know where the sewage would be dumped. He said he has a good system and "doesn't want to pay to help someone sell their lots."
Barry said there is some ambiguity in state law as to whether district commissioners would have the authority to require homeowners to join. He said they may have to ask for an attorney general's opinion.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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