City piping gas to county subdivision|[01/16/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Traffic was detoured around Vicksburg Gas Department crews on Indiana Avenue Tuesday as work began to extend city pipelines through Oak Park to a new subdivision in Warren County.

The yellow pipes will allow the city to sell natural gas to those who will live in the Eastvillage development off Lee Road near Old Highway 27.

Though the 35 homes planned for the development are outside city limits, future residents of the 2,000- to 5,000 square-foot homes will live inside the city’s primary gas service zone. The homes, to be modeled after selected older homes in Vicksburg, will also have city sewer connections.

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“They agreed to pay for the service and it is served by our gas lines,” Mayor Laurence Leyens said, adding water will still be supplied by Hilldale Water District.

Motorists can expect to be directed around work crews for the next two to three weeks, gas department supervisor James Beamon said.

Areas served by the natural gas purchased by Vicksburg Water & Gas also extend past the city limits east to Mount Alban Road and also pick up about a mile of Mississippi 27.

Agreements were reached in 2005 with principals of its development group, WMHS LLC, to provide the services to the new subdivision, one where homes are expected to sell for $150,000 or more.

Sewer rates usually double for county residents and gas rates are about 25 percent higher.

Real estate agent Harley Caldwell, a principal in the firm, said most savings residents will see will be the long-term effect of having the city provide and maintain the services.

“We just felt like it was so much better service and more reliable,” Caldwell said.

County developments tying into municipal sewer and gas lines is a trend officials have hoped would continue after two commercial businesses on U.S. 80 did so in 2006.

To that end, city engineers hope legal and regulatory hurdles can be overcome to include areas between 27 and Lee Road inside the city’s primary gas coverage zone.

“We’d basically be looping our gas system,” said city engineer Rick Hanks.

City neighborhoods south of Warrenton Road are served by Port Gibson-based Mississippi River Gas LLC. Just this year, fire hydrants and sewer service was extended to south Vicksburg after a $3.9 million effort to complete final phases of work begun after the 1990 annexation.

Residents of the Kings community in north Vicksburg are served by Birmingham-based Southern Natural Gas Company, a division of El Paso Corporation.

WMHS, LLC, a partnership of Caldwell, attorney John Wheeless, brothers Cooper and Robert Morrison III and builder Johnny Sanders, also plans The Townhouses at Washington and Grove.