Public forum for proposed Pecan Acres project set for Wednesday

Staff Writer

The community room at the Starkville Police Department will play host to a public forum for residents of Pecan Acres to gather and speak about the proposed move.

The forum will begin at 5 p.m. and go until 9 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23. The event is sponsored by Indivisible Golden Triangle, the Oktibbeha County chapter of the NAACP, Oktibbeha County and Starkville Democrats, Progressive Starkville Network and Concerned Citizens of Oktibbeha County and Starkville.

Discussions around the proposed Pecan Acres move has generated debate and frustration in the community, with some arguing that the residents would no longer be in close proximity to a grocery store, drugstore and other businesses.

“We were concerned that no one has gone into the neighborhood and asked the residents how they feel about this proposal,” Chair of the Starkville Democratic Municipal Executive Committee Patti Drapala said.

Drapala said this proposed development is only being looked at as a “revenue generator” and the residents of Pecan Acres are not being asked how they feel about the potential move.

She said there has always been a focus on the attractive quality of neighborhoods in Starkville, but now, there is an interest to remove one community to make Highway 12 more commercial.

“Do we not care about people anymore?” Drapala said.

During the meeting, there will be a moderator to keep the order, and representatives from other community organizations will make statements on their thoughts of the proposal.

Drapala said they were passing out flyers to residents at Pecan Acres when residents told her they were “alarmed” and “concerned” about moving locations.

Although there will be a public hearing hosted by the Starkville Housing Authority, Drapala said this meeting will serve as a less formal, less intimidating opportunity for tenants to provide their thoughts on the potential development.

“We want the residents to be able to express themselves,” Drapala said “This is their opportunity to speak.”

The Oktibbeha County chapter of the NAACP has already voiced its fears that the new location will not be as conveniently located for people who do not have transportation.

Chapter President Chris Taylor previously asked developer Johnny Moore if this project represents a land swap, even trade, a purchase for fair market value, or a long term lease from the city.

He was also concerned with the impact to property value for the new location, asking if it will be better. The Starkville Housing Authority recently revealed the location of the potential new Pecan Acres development during its meeting on May 10.

Attorney Johnny Moore proposed a plan to the Starkville Board of Aldermen in April where a 70,000-square foot replica of Pecan Acres could be built in an area approved by the Fair Housing Administration.

Moore said the plan would be to take Pecan Acres’ previous location and put approximately $150 million worth of infrastructure and development on the property.

As for the residents, Moore said the units would be built before moving the residents in. Residents will not be displaced for any period of time.

The Housing Authority agreed to have a public hearing about the possible new development on July 12 at the Greensboro Center.

The location, which was previously undisclosed due to a confidentiality agreement, is located on Highway 182 across from Longs Lake by Talley Ho Road.

Along with the public hearing, the Housing Authority will host a triad of meetings with tenants on June 6. The times of the meetings are at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to meet the needs for all of the tenants.