A county supervisor is questioning the usefulness of the Mannsdale-Livingston Heritage Preservation District along Mississippi 463, surprising its board members and others.

District 1 Supervisor Tim Johnson is questioning the purpose of the district, which was formed to protect and preserve the historical and rural area northwest of Madison.

Johnson, who doesn't represent the area, said he has received numerous complaints from developers about their dealings with the district and set a public hearing for May 18.

He said the purpose of the meeting is to gather more information and possibly take action.

Members of the commission that control the district say they were surprised by the move.

District 3 Supervisors D.I. Smith, who represents the area, said he has not heard any of the complaints brought up by Johnson.

The district has the authority to review applications for site plans, rezoning, variances and special exception permits.

It also prohibits developments like "big box" retail establishments, billboards and apartments and requires residential lots to adhere to buffer zones and other restrictions.

The Mannsdale-Livingston Heritage Preservation District extends from China Grove A.M.E Church along Mississippi 463 to the intersection of Highway 22. It includes historical sites like Annandale Plantation and the Chapel of the Cross Church.

During a recent meeting of the Board of Supervisors Johnson proposed the public hearing, which he said will help the supervisors gather information on the district's objectives.

"It may not be that we dissolve them," Johnson said. "We want to take care of Chapel of the Cross Church. It might be that we just decrease the size of the district or create an area around the church that is of historic value.

"We have other boards like planning and zoning that are in place and I want to make sure everyone knows their role," he added.

The preservation commission's chairman, Rita McGuffie, said that the questioning of the district's purpose comes as a surprise.

"We have had a very good working relationship with developers and residents to keep property values high," McGuffie said. "I am surprised by all of this. We are protecting the community's rural historic character."

Smith said he had not received any of the complaints Johnson mentioned, but said he is currently in the process of gathering more information.

"I have not had any developers, constituents or property owners express reservations about the commission or the district," Smith said. "Obviously there was a lot of thought in setting up the district and it would be premature to make any judgements at this time."

Cress Development project manager Ken Primos is a member of the Mannsdale-Livingston Heritage Preservation Commission who has also worked to develop subdivisions in the district such as Hartfield, Johnstone, Village of Mannsdale, and Hatheway Lake.

"I don't have complaints about it," Primos said. "It's obvious what the rules are.

"I've been on both sides," he continued. "As a developer I understand that viewpoint, but it's a great group to work with. It works if you follow the rules."

Another key issue concerning the district is their opposition to the widening of Mississippi 463 to four lanes.

In 2007, supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a Mississippi Department of Transportation study concerning the widening with strong objection from the district.

Then-District 3 Supervisor Andy Taggart and District 4 Supervisor Karl Banks also opposed the study.

Johnson argued that people were tired of sitting in traffic jams and still feels the roadway should be widened.

"We are in the year 2009 and we have to move forward," Johnson said. "We want to protect the integrity and we have to look at ways to develop the county to promote qualify of life."

MDOT Central District Commissioner Dick Hall said it doesn't take a study to see the area needs to be four-laned.

"If they don't want it four-laned people need to stop moving out there," Hall said bluntly. "We know sooner or later some hard decisions will have to be made. It certainly won't be tomorrow, but it will have to be studied."

McGuffie defended the districts position against the widening saying they supported the four-lane up to Reunion Parkway, but did not want large trucks traveling other parts of the road and potentially damaging historical structures.

"We did not want to see this used as a truck route with heavy vibrations that would hurt old bricks," she said.

Other notable historic properties include the Mann Plantation silo and carriage house as well as the Town of Livingston, which was established in 1924 and served as the first county seat.

In 2007, The Mannsdale-Livingston Heritage Preservation District was named one of the 10 most endangered historical places by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.