A landowner near Mantachie is seeking permission to use the town’s sewer service to provide for a planned retirement community.

During last week’s regular meeting, the Mantachie Board of Aldermen spoke with Anida Farris, who owns some land off Highway 363 near Centerville Fish and Steak. While not within the town limits, the property is within spitting distance of Mantachie’s sewer line … between 500 and 600 feet, according to Mantachie Utilities Department head Rod McFerrin. To receive service, a pumping station would have to be installed. The expense and responsibility of doing this would fall on Farris.

Farris is planning to build a small retirement community on the property. Once finished, the community will feature 25 cottage-style units, each measuring 12x40 feet. Residents will be required to be 55 years or older. The homes will be built on-site, she said, and the community will be gated. Planned amenities include a laundromat and recreational area. Money collected via the laundromat will be used to fund monthly community cookouts.

“They will be very nice, very attractive,” Farris said. “It will be a quiet, peaceful place.”

She said the view of the community is blocked by trees on most sides, so the new construction shouldn’t be much of a bother to current residents.

Farris called what she planned to build a “community,” not an apartment block. She said construction on the community will begin as soon as she receives approval from the town, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Health Department.

“I’m ready,” she said. “I can’t officially [make this happen without your sewer service]. I could really use your help with this.”

The board seemed genuinely interested in the project, which could net the town approximately $300 per month in fees. If they don’t have to install or maintain the pump, that’s money that comes without any upfront costs. The service would run through a single meter, with residents paying a flat rate for service and Farris paying the town. The board agreed this would be the least complicated way to provide service.

But while the board seemed to have few doubts about the project as a whole, or providing sewer service for the community, some questions were raised. According to the town’s longstanding ordinances, after five years of being connected to the town’s water lines, the pumping station that will have to be built to accommodate the community (and all of the responsibility of upkeep that comes along with it) would become property of Mantachie. Aldermen seemed eager to avoid this scenario and questioned whether or not this rule applied to a connection outside the town limits proper. They didn’t have any immediate answers, however, which made them anxious about casting a vote that night.

“I would like to know a little bit more about the contract with the pumping station before we agree to anything,” said Matt Fennell, adding that he supported the idea of the community but was trying to think about the future. “I’d hate to come back 10 years from now, you no longer own the property and whoever is there comes to the board and wants us to fix the pump.”

The rest of the board agreed.

Additionally, while utilities head McFerrin liked the idea of providing service for the community, he also briefly express some concern that the town’s 2.5 inch line wouldn’t be thick enough to provide service to so many units simultaneously. Farris said her engineer didn’t seem to think it would be a problem.

In the end, it was agreed that board members would research whether or not they had to take possession of the pump. They will take up the issue again at their next meeting.

It’s worth noting that the town of Mantachie has ordinances in place blocking the construction of rental properties within the town’s borders, though these rules don’t apply to where the retirement community is being planned.

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