Ridge Road Hearing set in Hancock County
A public hearing has been set in regards to the Ridge Road situation that Nicholson resident Boyd “Butch” Merrifield has been requesting action on for the section of Ridge Road from Asa McQueen Road to Texas Flat Road near the Hancock / Pearl River County line.
Merrifield has addressed both the Pearl River County and Hancock County Board of Supervisors in an attempt to have either board take action to have the gates constructed by a private citizen to be removed from Ridge Road to allow the public to travel the road.
In the past few days, a public notice of a hearing was placed on the road. The notice is an announcement of a public hearing to be held in Hancock County by the Board of Supervisors on July 17th at 1:30pm at the Board meeting room located at 854 Highway 90 in Bay St Louis. The hearing notice states the hearing is “to consider modification to the official county road map system to consider adding or deleting Ridge Road (or portions thereof) onto the Hancock County Road Map System, and/or abandoning that road or portions thereof. At the hearing the Board will determine whether said roads should be included on the county road map, and whether they are or are not part of the county road system.”
During Merrifield’s last discussion with the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors at their June 6th meeting, Merrifield alleged that the two gates, one on the Hancock County side, the other on Pearl River County side, were installed without permission from the federal government or any other entity, and have been there for a number of years.
A small portion of the road sits in Pearl River County near the intersection of Asa McQueen Road. At the meeting, County Administrator Adrain Lumpkin explained that since Pearl River County, and county workers, have had no access to the road for many years, the Pearl River County portion of Ridge Road from Asa McQueen to the Hancock County line was left off the Official County Road List in 2000 and is therefore considered abandoned by Pearl River County, and ultimately not their jurisdiction. The federal government owns the land surrounding that section of the road because it is part of the Stennis Space Center Buffer Zone.
During that meeting Pearl River County Board Attorney Joe Montgomery told the board and Merrifield that he felt it would take a very complicated legal action between the two parties disputing over this access to settle it. Montgomery recommended that Pearl River County not get involved in either side of this issue.
On April 3rd, Merrifield addressed the Hancock County Board of Supervisors requesting they look into the matter and take action. During the same meeting, Kim Frierson Lee, whose family constructed the gates, made a request to the Hancock Board to abandon Ridge Road.
According to Hancock County Board Attorney Gary Yarborough’s comments after the April meeting, the Hancock Board determined the portion of Ridge Road in Hancock County is a public road and the gate should be removed—on the Hancock County side. The section of Ridge Road in Hancock County was included in the 2007 county road registry.