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Aldermen to hold public hearing on form-based codes

December 20, 2011

By NATHAN GREGORY
sdnreporter@yahoo.com

The Starkville Board of Aldermen will hold a public hearing on an ordinance which would amend the city’s official zoning map and establish form-based codes for corridors connecting downtown Starkville to the Mississippi State University campus 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
The ordinance, titled “Downtown/MSU Corridors Code,” would apply to areas including portions of Highway 182, Main Street, University Drive, Lampkin Street and Russell Street. The city’s planning and zoning commission has held numerous hearings on the matter prior to today’s board of aldermen meeting.
The city has been working in cooperation with Placemakers, LLC, which Starkville mayor Parker Wiseman said has learned about the area, visited with numerous community groups and received suggestions.
“Since those initial recommendations, Placemakers has continued to advise our planning staff as they’ve made adaptations and guided the planning and zoning commission from the early stages of the process (until now).”
Wiseman said the board and consultants wanted to analyze how form-based codes would work in Starkville to determine whether or not it could help boost opportunity for potential future businesses.
“Form-based code generally is a type of development code that makes it easier to do development projects in compact, urban spaces. That’s why the board and consultants felt that downtown Starkville was the ideal part of the city to do an analysis to determine whether a form-based code would be most conducive to future development,” Wiseman said. “In downtown districts you typically have many different uses that are in close proximity, but you also have less space to work with,” he said. “The formed-base codes model, which is catching on in Mississippi — although we would be one of the first (potential state cities to adopt the system) — is seen as a way to foster development that recognizes the unique circumstances in urban spaces.”
Aldermen will also consider a proposal which would modernize and update the city’s current permitted and conditional land-use chart and associated definitions.
Wiseman said the land-use chart has been one of the biggest projects of the city planning department that has coincided with the potential establishment of form-based codes.
“Form-based codes rely on the city land-use chart, and in order to make the potential form-based codes, the city planner (Ben Griffith) realized some change was going to be necessary with a land-use chart,” Wiseman said. “He and the planning and zoning commission have been working quite a bit to prepare that land-use chart.”
The board will also consider authorizing the purchase of flags with a new logo for the city of Starkville. Wiseman said consideration will be given to the purchases due to the uncertainty as to whether or not a logo has been officially adopted.
“We have a watermark and flag design we’ve used over the years, but we’re not sure whether or not it was officially adopted,” Wiseman said.
At the beginning of this term, he said, the board set as a goal an initial strategic planning retreat to adopt an official logo, seal and flag.
“Since then, Starkville has become a part of the Mississippi Main Street program, and as part of that the program put together a design charrette last year that involved a team of design and branding experts doing an intensive week-long visit in Starkville and holding a series of community meetings,” he said. “That group offered suggestions on a wide range of topics, one of which was a potential city logo and slogan, and the board will be considering whether to adopt that logo and have it serve as our flag along with our existing seal.”

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