By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission approved Michael Krakerâ€™s request for a zoning change for a pocket neighborhood along the recently extended East Garrard Road.
The board also approved a request from Bonds of Love Ministry to allow them to establish a church at the former site of a photography studio on Highway 182 near Rickâ€™s Cafe. Board members were initially concerned a church in that area would inhibit growth by way of an ordinance preventing businesses established after the church from selling beer and alcohol within 250 feet of the building. Once City Planner Ben Griffith showed the commission a map of the area, those concerns diminished, and the commission passed the measure.
At the commissionâ€™s Aug. 9 meeting, Kraker withdrew his request for an R-1-to-PUD (planned development unit) zoning change to accommodate a set of 23 detached, single-family dwellings, because the Garrard Road extension he cited as justifying the zoning change had not yet opened. Before, the commission expressed doubts about approving a zoning change based on a change in the area which had not yet happened.
With that obstacle removed, discussion instead turned to other questions about the plot. Commissioner Dora Herring said she was concerned the PUDâ€™s narrow roads would cause traffic issues, pointing to conceptual images for the PUD.
â€śThere were no cars in any of the pictures,â€ť Herring said. â€śI guess Iâ€™m wondering where the extra cars are going to park. That does make it feel more congested.â€ť
Kraker, accompanied by his wife Gayle, called on area realtors to address concerns from the board and local citizens.
Leigh Ann Evans, a realtor with Coldwell Banker, said traffic has not been an issue on other, similar properties she has worked with, including Camden Place and Roberts Cove. She also said there is a public need for housing at the price point PUDs offer in Starkville.
â€śHomes that are new and ready to move into, itâ€™s hard to find,â€ť Evans said. â€śThe last home that is on the market is in Camden â€” itâ€™s 107 Camden â€” and itâ€™s closing tomorrow. So we get calls every day, we get emails all the time, from people who are looking for those kinds of things.
Fewer than 10 citizens appeared at Tuesdayâ€™s meeting, a small showing compared with about two dozen who appeared at the Aug. 9 meeting where the zoning change was first proposed. While some citizens approved of the project, some, including Ward 5 property owner Jane Loveless, disapproved again.
â€śAs of yet,â€ť Loveless said, â€śI donâ€™t see that much change because of the road.â€ť
Once again, Jane Lovelessâ€™s husband, commissioner Ira Loveless, recused himself from the vote. Just before the vote, Herring absented herself from the vote as well.
The initial vote was 3-1, with commissioners Jason Walker, James Hicks and Jeremy Murdock in favor and commissioner John Moore against. When City Attorney Chris Latimer pointed out three votes were not enough for a measure to pass, commission Chair Jerry Emison cast a vote in favor to allow passage.