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Sidewalk ordinance changes on boards agenda tonight

March 15, 2011

By PAUL SIMS
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

The public may get one more opportunity after tonight to share their views on changes to the city’s sidewalk ordinance.
Though a second public hearing and vote on the matter are on the Board of Aldermen’s meeting agenda for today, Mayor Parker Wiseman says another chance for public input may occur.
The city’s Transportation Committee and City Attorney Chris Latimer added a rework in some spots on the proposed ordinance, the mayor said. Wiseman says the adjustments include clarifying portions which were a little difficult to understand or cutting words where Latimer and the committee found problems.
The major change comes in Section 3.2, where officials have added a “grandfather” clause for new construction in existing neighborhoods pre-dating the sidewalk ordinance.
It reads: “Builders putting up new houses or improving residential structures on existing lots in existing subdivisions with public streets which were accepted by the city prior to the sidewalk ordinance shall not be required to install sidewalks.”
Another change comes in the form of deleting a reference in Section 3.4 to a “to be developed comprehensive sidewalk plan.”
Latimer and the committee “felt it would be problematic to mention a plan not currently in existence,” Wiseman said.
City officials believe the changes in the ordinance are substantive enough for another public hearing, Wiseman said, adding he anticipates the board will add such an avenue for citizen input in April.
Regarding the overall amendment to the sidewalk ordinance, Wiseman said he thinks it “will provide more flexibility in the sidewalk ordinance which is needed and hopefully will put us on the path to having a more sustainable sidewalk ordinance that will ensure that we become a more walkable city.”
Also on Tuesday, the Board of Aldermen will hold a first public hearing on changes in the city’s sign ordinance, to include alterations in the allowed size, rights-of-way signs and amortization of those which exist but are non-conforming.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen will meet at 5:30 p.m. today in the City Hall Courtroom.

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