A variance to allow a woman to place a used mobile home on Atkins Street was granted after a former aldermen told the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that she was "trustworthy, honest and dependable" and deserved homeownership.

The vote followed a public hearing in which one neighbor continued to voice opposition.

The Board of Aldermen voted 5-0 to grant the variance so that Lina (Lilly) May Taylor could place a single-wide, used mobile home on her lot at 273 Atkins St. Earlier this month, she presented the board with a petition signed by 15 neighbors in support of the variance.

Joe Tullos, a former Ward 1 alderman, appeared before the Mayor and Board of Aldermen as a "character witness" for Taylor.

He said the previous board set a precedent earlier by granting variances and rezoning requests.

"I don't see how we can pick or choose," Tullos said. "Homeownership means a lot. I would love for her to be my neighbor. She is trustworthy, honest and dependable."

Tullos said he had known Taylor for several years.

"I love her a lot and I know she will do what she says she is going to do," he said.

Tawanna Henson, who lives next door to the Atkins Street property, voiced opposition once again to the variance and complained about the condition of the mobile home.

"I keep my residence up and I don't want an unfit trailer next to me," Henson said. "It brings the value of my home down. Would y'all move it on y'all's land?"

Ward 4 Alderman Cecil Nichols told Henson and other board members that he had looked at the property as well as the mobile home.

"I don't want to deprive anybody from having a place to stay," he said. "She should have a chance to prosper."

Nichols said the mobile home was not new or up-to-date. He said it needed to be refurbished, with new windows and skirting.

"It needs a facelift to make it look presentable," he said.

Gerald Crenshaw, a friend of Taylor's, also spoke on her behalf, telling aldermen that work was going to be done on the mobile home once a variance is granted.

"My wife has window panes to put in," he said.

He told the board that Taylor was a friend of his family and he wanted to help her have a decent place to live.

"God put us on this earth for one reason: to be a good steward," Crenshaw said.

Mayor James A. Young said those involved in the dispute needed to reach good common ground.

"We have to meet somewhere in the middle," he said. "I understand Ms. Lilly's plight."

Crenshaw reassured the board that the mobile home would be presentable.

Nichols reminded Taylor and Henson that the variance would be for only five years.

Henson left the board meeting before aldermen voted unanimously to grant the variance with the stipulation that the mobile home be upgraded within a reasonable time frame.

"Let's all honor the words we said tonight," Young said after the vote.

"We are trying to clean up northside, westside, eastside and southside."

In other action, the board:

•Paid the claims.

•Selected Crowder Engineering as the engineer for the 2014 Pecan Avenue paving project. Others considered were Waggoner Engineering and Allen & Hoshell.

•Authorized for the mayor to sign an memorandum of understanding for a police station grant.

•Approved a 50 cents an hour raise for Deputy Clerk Kim Wooten.

•Approved street closings for Ham Jam on April 11-12.

•Approved a $46,052.04 payment to Anderson Contracting and $258.60 to Cox Engineering for work performed on the Stream Bank Stabilization Project.

•Authorized the Mayor, Board of Aldermen, city clerk and court clerk to attend the 2014 Mississippi Municipal League Conference in Biloxi on June 23-25 and pay travel expenses and registration fees.

•Approved a road bore along and/or across Posey Avenue for AT&T.

• Approved ad in the Neshoba Democrat for Ham Jam.

• Entered into executive session to discuss an industrial matter.

No action was taken.