By NATHAN GREGORY
Residents had the chance to offer input on proposed city redistricting plans at the Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday.
Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, which is in charge of the process, currently has four plans for reshaping districts in order to even the amount of voters in each of the city’s seven wards. The latter two of those plans, labeled Plan 3 and Plan 4, have received more favorable reaction from board members.
In order to be in compliance with the United States Department of Justice, there has to be a lower-than-10-percent deviance in the ward with the smallest amount of residents and the ward with the largest amount. As it currently stands, there is a 70.8 percent deviance between the total population in Ward 1 of 5,123 and Ward 2 of 2,707. The ideal population number for each ward, in theory, would be 3,413.
GTPDD GIS Manager Toby Sanford said there is an ongoing process to adjust numbers to make up for a census data error in an area located on the Mississippi State University campus that was brought up at the previous hearing.
“Last time we had a question about a particular area that the Census Bureau had a miscount in. That was the block between (wards) 4 and 3. They had zero population in this block in 2004 and 98 in this block in 2005,” Sanford said. “It was most likely miscoded. After speaking with the Census Bureau, up until July 2013 you can make changes to this information or inquire to try to get things like this fixed.”
Diane E. Wall, a resident of the Timber Cove community in Ward 3, said although Plans 3 and 4 have a better chance of board approval, they split more neighborhoods of common interest.
“Plan 1 and 2 did not take from the neighborhoods that have traditionally been together, (such as) Pleasant Acres, Timber Cove and Colonial Hills,” she said. “We’re on the west side of Montgomery, and they’ve now taken two of those communities — Pleasant Acres, Timber Cove and also Academy Place — and moved it to Ward 4, which does not have as much common interest as we have had in Ward 3. Ward 4 is a lot of the student population area that has different interests than we’ve had in common with the area we were before.”
Plan 3 would take 1,588 voters out of Ward 1 to bring its total population down to 3,535. Ward 2 would gain 677 people to reach 3,384. Ward 3 would downsize from 4,514 to 3,296, Ward 4 would add 442 residents to its current 3,039 to make 3,481 and Ward 5 would add 649 to its current 2,831 to have 3,480 total residents. Wards 6 and 7 would also see increased numbers, as Ward 6 would move from its current 2,764 constituents to 3,309 and Ward 7 would move from its current 2,910 constituents to 3,403. Overall, there would be only a 7 percent deviance between the city’s least and most populated wards under Plan 3.
Sanford said the only two differences between Plans 3 and 4 are moving Greensboro Street to Ward 1 and keeping Nash Street in 4 in order to keep City Planner Ben Griffith in his current ward. This would create a 8.59 percent deviance, which is still small enough to stay under the maximum of 10 percent.
Population-wise, Ward 1 would have 3,589 residents, Ward 4 would have 3,543, Ward 5 would have 3,418 and Ward 7 would have 3,349. Wards 2, 3 and 6 would see no change in Plan 4.
Proposed redistricting maps can be viewed at http://www.cityofstarkville.org/detail.php?p=2&s=204 .