The first time I visited Oak Grove after my son and daughter-in-law established residency here, I was struck by the vast dichotomy between neighborhoods and available housing. Most neighborhoods are lovely, with “pride of ownership” being evident. Oak Grove is a beautiful community west of Hattiesburg. I hesitate to call Oak Grove a suburb, because there are only county agencies in authority, and no municipal government. There are no building codes in Lamar County, either. Oak Grove is in Lamar County, but only parts of it are within the city limits of the Hattiesburg. Those residing in Oak Grove consider themselves part of Hattiesburg in as much as their mailing addresses reflect the same.There are more ordinances than there used to be, but the rules and regulations are looser than in the city, and they are unevenly enforced. For the most part, residents out in the county, live by the lyrics of the Merle Haggard song Okie from Muskogee, “we like living right and being free”; they don’t particularly appreciate county government interfering in their business, with a few exceptions.
Traveling through the “Grove”, a variety of different neighborhood settings can be observed. Subdivisions are generally very well maintained. Their physical appearance and how well they are maintained, sometimes depends on whether or not an active HOA (Home Owners Association) with binding and enforceable bylaws are in place. Regardless of whether or not a set of bylaws exists, homeowners often band together by consensus to maintain a minimum level of order and decorum in their subdivision or neighborhood. No one wants cars on blocks sitting in the front yard. If an uncaring neighbor is inclined to flaunt such action in the face of his neighbors, they’re going to get an earful or worse!
Then there’s the trailer trash. It’s obvious to even the casual observer, that in between the numerous manicured subdivisions, or on any given stretch of road or highway in Oak Grove or throughout Lamar County, it’s possible to encounter stretches of trashy looking mobile homes or trailers. Take Slade Road or Nobles Road as just two examples. There is very little separating the “trash” from the “treasure” in terms of property.
When I mention trash, I mean it, and you’ve seen it in photos many times before. Picture a broken down trailer home surrounded by barking dogs on chains, next to discarded washers, dryers, and assorted derelict automobiles, mounds of household discards, etc. Down the road a spell are the custom iron gates of a 60+ acre horse farm and residence with stables, swimming pool, gorgeous green pastures, and many more amenities valued at several million dollars.
Naturally, as I work with buyers and travel over the streets and highways of Lamar County I get the following question from those I’m working with; “Dennis, how is it possible that a piece of trash like that can occupy the same relative proximity as a mega estate? What is going to keep some hillbilly from buying the property next to mine, parking a trailer on it, and turning it into a pile of trash?”
The facts are these. Many mobile home sites are “grandfathered”, as are any number of mobile home parks. Most likely these properties have been there for many years. Should anyone wish to open a new mobile home park or place a trailer on a lot in Lamar County, the Lamar County Board planning and zoning departments are going to take a long, hard look at the effect such a development would have on the value of surrounding properties. There are going to be hearings, and based on the findings, a decision is going to be made as to whether or not a mobile home park development or home can move forward.
Mobile homes, trailer parks, and the like are generally not looked upon favorably where they might impact negatively on conventional homes or subdivisions. By the same token, it is not possible to mandate the removal of mobile homes or trailer parks where they are already in existence. The chances of a trailer home or a trailer park being allowed to establish itself in an area where it doesn’t conform with the existing surrounding are nill. No permits for power, water, or sewer installation would be issued.