An explosion of residential housing construction in Lamar County could result in starts of 13 new developments containing 450 lots this year, according to county planner Marvin Strahan. From 2001 to 2003, some 31 subdivisions with 616 lots were started.
Lamar County, created in 1901, has been, through its history, a rural area whose county seat, Purvis, has a population of a few thousand. But that’s been changing in recent years, due in large part to Lamar County’s being adjacent to Forrest County and Hattiesburg.
Some 45,000 people now live in Lamar County.
Last year, Hattiesburg annexed a section of the county and now, “Lamar County is poised to get a new mall,” Strahan said.
Turtle Creek Crossing would be located in the Lamar County part of Hattiesburg and, despite some opposition, appears to be moving toward final approval. Sewer lines are already being put in, Strahan said.
The housing trend started in 2001, with the creation of 10 subdivisions with starts on 440 new homes. In 2002, there were eight subdivisions and 450 homes and, last year, some 434 homes and 13 subdivisions were started.
Strahan said that, so far in 2004, plats have been filed for 10 subdivisions and that the board of supervisors has issued orders for three others to proceed.
A plat is the layout of a subdivision — the streets and lots. After a plat is filed by a developer, it must be approved by the department of planning. The planning department then takes it to the board of supervisors and, if approved, the developer can go forward with the project.
The first step in building a subdivision is clearing the land, then roads are put in. The roads are inspected by the county engineer to make certain that they meet county standards. The county must also inspect the land to determine the impact that the building of a subdivision will have on the area, particularly streams and other bodies of water, and on the ecosystem.
“We look out for the welfare of the county and its people,” Strahan said. “And for the impact on the local system of roads. We have to look to the future, to the development of our road system.”
Single-family homes, different styles
Lagniappe, one of the 10 subdivisions for which plats have been filed, is being built by Lagniappe Development.
The project is “seventy-eight percent developed,” according to Tim Burge, civil engineer on the project. He said that there were 21 lots in Lagniappe and that the houses were all single family homes.
Burge’s Hattiesburg firm is now working on Englewood, a 56-lot development, which is also one of the 10 for which plats have been filed. Englewood Properties is the developer and Hamp Cooley of Purvis is the managing partner.
“The project is now in Phase I, a grouping of eight to 10 lots,” Burge said. “Then, depending on how well Phase I goes, on how the market responds, there’ll be Phase II, which will be another grouping.”
These Phase I lots are 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 acres each.
As civil engineer, it’s Burge’s job to prepare construction documents and specifications, to do the surveying, planning and design, (including roads), the utility systems (water and sewer) and to coordinate these with the electricity and phone companies.
In addition to Lagniappe and Englewood, other current Lamar County subdivisions in various states of development include:
Martin Ridge — 24 lots
Crystal View — 48 lots
Angela’s Field — 25 lots
Le Papillon — 31 lots
Chapel Hill — 55 lots
Chanticleer — 56 lots
Gardens of Papillon — 9 lots
Remington Court — 6 lots
Three additional developments, none with names yet, are in earlier stages. Strahan said that these developments total a minimum of 100 lots.
The subdivisions have a mix of housing styles and all of the units are one-family houses. Strahan said that the Gardens of Papillon were smaller than the other homes, with smaller lots and that they were closer to each other.
Demand high for homes
“There are a number of reasons why so much new housing is needed,” Strahan said. “There are a lot of professional people, with two hospitals in Hattiesburg and the University of Southern Mississippi.”
The number of Hattiesburg business people was also cited, because there are more and better-paying jobs.
“People are making more money and wanting better homes.”
Strahan also mentioned Camp Shelby (a few miles south of Hattiesburg), where some 4,000 troops are being trained for Iraq. Along with the troops are hundreds of instructors, family members and visitors. And another 3,500 Iraq-bound troops are headed to Camp Shelby for training.
To provide housing, the army has reserved a huge number of housing units.
In addition, some 900 out-of-state retirees have moved into Lamar County in the past 10 years. The number of retirees was determined, Strahan said, by an Area Development Partnership committee (on which Strahan served) that canvassed the area.
Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at email@example.com.