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Planning officials to review potential development chart

October 10, 2011

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission will review a draft of a streamlined chart of permitted and conditional land uses at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
City Planner Ben Griffith said while the formal ordinance change to approve this draft will likely happen in November, the draft will still help Placemakers, LLC create form-based codes to guide future development in conjunction with the city’s zoning rules.
Typically, the city’s planning and zoning commission sets rules for how property can be used in certain areas, including commercial, industrial and residential use. Form-based codes set more focused architectural guidelines in certain areas to encourage certain types of land use, allowing developers to build better projects with fewer administrative steps.
Griffith said Placemakers prepared the first draft of its form-based codes without consulting the city’s current land-use chart, resulting in inconsistencies between the code draft and the chart. This inconsistency brought the need to update the land use chart to the commission’s attention, Griffith said, because much of the current chart dates back about 40 years.
“That’s why the form-based codes have been on the back burner, because we’ve been working on the land use chart,” Griffith said. “This is just a draft to get some feedback from the planning and zoning commission. If we’re on the right track, we can go ahead and send that to the form-based codes planners.”
Griffith said several of the land uses listed on the current chart have been consolidated in the new draft.
“What we came up with is on an 11-by-17 sheet of paper, going from 11 pages down to two,” Griffith said. “We’ll probably do a public hearing next month on the land use chart, because that’s going to require an ordinance change.”
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the form-based codes will benefit Starkville by allowing greater flexibility for innovative development at small sites in downtown Starkville, the densest part of the city. Once the new land use chart is approved, Wiseman said, the city will be in a good position to evaluate and adopt Placemakers’ form-based codes.
“It should move along pretty quickly from here,” Wiseman said. “Most of Placemakers’ work is done. Now they’re in the process of working with our staff to make sure their suggested code is in harmony with our existing code and regulations.”
If the land use chart gets approved in November, Wiseman said, the form-based codes could be approved in December.
“Anytime you’re dealing with processes and board deliberation, it’s hard to put an absolute timeline on it,” Wiseman said, “but it could happen as early as December.”
The commission will also consider recommending the Starkville Board of Aldermen approve a final plat for approval for the South Wedgewood Part II subdivision, located at the northeastern corner of South Montgomery Street and South Wedgewood Road.
Finally, the commission will consider recommending approval of a zoning change from R-1 (single family) to R-6 (mobile homes) at 1641 Rockhill Road as requested by Louise Page. The commission’s staff report says Page wants to place a single mobile home on her Rockhill Road property, but the current R-1 zoning does not allow for mobile homes.
The commission’s staff report says only one person has contacted the city with concerns about the rezoning, concerns pertaining to utility access to the mobile home and whether or not Page intends to create a mobile home park on the property. Griffith said this re-zoning is unlikely to create the same kind of controversy as Michael Kraker’s application for an R-1-to-PUD (planned unit development) zoning change for a pocket neighborhood along the recently extended East Garrard Road.
Both the commission and board of aldermen have approved Kraker’s request, with Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry N. Vaughn voting against it at the city level. Kraker’s plan still has variance issues with street width, sidewalks and density, which will be discussed at the Starkville Board of Adjustments and Appeals’ next meeting on Oct. 26 at 4 p.m.

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