By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Five years ago, Eddie and Barbara Black bought a lot in a new subdivision with assurances that its gravel drives would one day become county roads.
They would be maintained and paved by the county, the Blacks were told, just as soon as three houses in the subdivision were built and occupied.
But that never happened. Instead, the couple and their Sunny Meadows neighbors found themselves in a years-long struggle with Lee County, which so far hasn’t accepted ownership of the two short drives.
Meanwhile, the roads slowly deteriorate even though residents have poured thousands of dollars and countless man-hours into their maintenance – a burden typically assumed by the Lee County Road Department.
The Blacks and others hope to give it another try today. They plan to attend the Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting at 10 a.m. to make a formal request.
“We’re not trying to criticize or crucify anyone,” Eddie Black said, sitting at his kitchen table Monday morning. “We just want our road paved. We just want an answer.”
But the county already gave its answer to Black and the other dozen or so families now living in Sunny Meadows, said District 1 Supervisor Phil Morgan, in whose jurisdiction the subdivision resides.
The answer, Morgan said, is no. Not until the gravel drives comply with county regulations. They require either an 8-inch-slag-and-tar surface or one with 4 inches of asphalt.
They also need 2-foot drainage ditches on both sides.
“Their beef should be with the developer, not the county,” said Morgan, who insists the developers knew the rules when they built Sunny Meadows.
The subdivision is one of several developed by Kirksey-Webb Properties LLC. It also has Sunny Lane and Golden Hills, both in District 1.
Sunny Meadows’ roads were built no differently than than the others, and their roads were taken in by the county, said Dean Webb, a partner.
“Typically they do take the roads after three houses,” Webb said. “That’s what I told the residents, and they had just paved Sunny Lane, so I had no reason to believe it’d be any different in Sunny Meadows.”
But Morgan said it was around the time that the county got tough and started enforcing rules that had been ignored or winked at.
But Webb said the roads in Golden Hills were taken in by the county after Sunny Meadows, and they don’t conform to the strict guidelines.
Nor does County Road 1491, a more than quarter-mile drive that has only two houses and dead-ends into a private residence. It’s so narrow that if two cars pass each other, one must pull into the ditch to make space.
That’s also in Morgan’s district. He said it’s different because it’s not in a subdivision.
Those distinctions mean little to Earl and Jackie Black, who have joined the effort to get Sunny Meadows’ streets taken in. They’ll be with the Blacks at the Lee County Justice Center this morning, carrying a petition signed by several other residents also wanting a county road.
“The amount of taxes we pay out here,” Earl Black said, “they ought to do something for us.”