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Church will propose Lafayette roundabout

November 12, 2012

The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on new First Baptist Church developments including a new children’s building, new parking and a roundabout on Lafayette Street during its meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

Kevin Burchfield is a landscape architect with Pryor and Morrow Architects and Associates, which is working with FBC on these developments. Burchfield said the roundabout is intended to slow traffic on Lafayette Street and accommodate pedestrians, including children traveling between the forthcoming children’s building to the street’s west and the existing FBC Outreach Center to its east.

“If that construction is approved to happen on Lafayette Street with the roundabout, I think some may be worried that street would be shut down and blocked off,” Burchfield said. “We have already had some discussion with the city. If we did go through with that design, if that street were shut down, it would only be shut down for a matter of hours and not days or weeks. It would be constructed in such a way that we’d be able to keep the traffic flowing.”

The roundabout, children’s building and parking are part of a master plan Pryor and Morrow distributed in September that would put FBC buildings or parking lots on nearly all property within a quadrangle circumscribed by Washington Street to the west, Lampkin Street to the north, South Jackson Street to the east, and railroad tracks to the south. First Baptist Church already owns all property included in this master plan, Burchfield said, but these future plans are not yet set in stone.

For instance, the plan calls for a parking lot where the former Van Landingham hardware store currently stands, but Burchfield said FBC is still using that building for classes and will determine whether to demolish it at a later date. The plan also calls for a sky bridge over the roundabout — or as an alternative to the roundabout — that is not finalized, he said, and it is not yet determined which buildings on Lafayette Street’s east side will be demolished to make way for the roundabout.

“Some structures have (already) been removed, and others will be removed to make way as time goes by,” Burchfield said. “(First Baptist Church is) not looking to acquire anybody else’s property that they haven’t already got.”

Concerning the children’s center itself, Burchfield said FBC needs a larger children’s building than it currently has.

“It’s really not up to code,” Burchfield said. “It’s not that the building is not safe, but it’s time for them to have a newer, updated building.”

Burchfield said the amount of time needed to complete the building is uncertain, but he expects it not to take much more than a year, and possibly less than a year. Some infrastructure questions need to be answered, he said, including whether the water pressure meets requirements for the building’s sprinkler system. So far, he said, the city has been receptive to discussions about new FBC developments.

“We’ve had several review sessions, and (the city is) cautiously optimistic about the whole roundabout issue,” Burchfield said. “Some neighbors are just concerned that we be sensitive with their neighborhood, which they should be. The church really wants to be a good neighbor; they want to be sensitive to the perception of their neighbors.”

The commission will also consider a preliminary plat for a Dollar General at 1006 North Jackson Street, presented by Thomas Allen of Pritchard Engineering, Inc. with Mike Rozier Construction Company slated to handle construction. The new Dollar General will be Starkville’s fifth, with other locations on Highway 12, Stark Road, Louisville Street and Highway 182. Rozier said this new Dollar General will not replace any of the others.

“They are not planning on closing any of them,” Rozier said.

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