Residents Suggest Rejuvenation

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Representatives from several local neighborhood associations addressed the Meridian City Council Tuesday night expressing their concern over 713 proposed housing units in Lauderdale County.

Robert Markham of the Royal Oaks Homeowners Association suggested the city and county governments work together to remove dilapidated housing and encourage a redevelopment of those areas.

"If the board of supervisors, the city council and the mayor work as a team, then I think it would be an attractive area to developers to want to invest," said Markham.

Since the enactment of the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act after Hurricane Katrina, tax credits are now available to develop all areas within 49 designated Mississippi counties, not just those in low to moderate income neighborhoods.

Property owners say they are concerned that property values in certain areas may suffer and areas needing development will sit idle.

But this could all change if the Mississippi Home Corporation changes its point system.

"The only thing they said is that, 'They don't make the rules. They're just playing by the rules'," said Clay Tynes, a Poplar Springs resident.

That may not be completely accurate. Louisiana made changes to its point system and Tynes suggested Mississippi follow their lead. A change would continue to encourage the development of low income areas while aiding in the recovery from the Hurricane.

"Tax credits, post Katrina, in the Gulf Opportunity Zone Act, the one intent of Congress was to replace housing that had been demolished by Katrina," said Mayor John Robert Smith.

The original intent of the GO Zone Act was to help affected areas rebuild. Within the city of Meridian, that includes about 30 houses.