By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Adjustments and Appeals will hold a meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall to consider whether or not to give Michael Kraker approval to develop a pocket neighborhood located on the recently opened extension of Garrard Road.
To accommodate Kraker’s plan, a zoning change from R-1 (single-family residential) to PUD (planned unit development) was recommended by the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission Sept. 13 and approved by the Starkville Board of Aldermen Oct. 4. Kraker still needs the adjustments board to approve variances in his PUD plan concerning street width, sidewalks and density.
Kraker’s request for a zoning change first came before the planning and zoning commission Aug. 10. About two dozen citizens attended the part of the meeting pertaining to Kraker’s request, and two of them raised objections to the development during the public comments section of the public hearing.
State and city codes only permit the city’s zoning map to be amended if the map has an error or if changing conditions in an existing zone make an amendment desirable for orderly growth. Since the extension of Garrard Road had not yet opened, City Attorney Chris Latimer said Kraker’s case for changing conditions was not likely to pass with either the commission or the aldermen at the time.
“The law won’t allow you to base ‘change’ on future change,” Latimer said. “It would have to be past change.”
Because Kraker would have been forced to wait six months to re-submit his request if the aldermen denied it, he withdrew his request with plans to re-submit it in September. The Garrard Road extension opened on Aug. 22., contributing to approval from the commission and the board for the re-zoning.
Concerns about street width and other variance issues predate Tuesday’s board of adjustments meeting. For example, on Sept. 13, Zoning Commissioner Dora Herring said she was concerned the PUD’s narrow roads would cause traffic issues, pointing to conceptual images for the PUD.
“There were no cars in any of the pictures,” Herring said. “I guess I’m wondering where the extra cars are going to park. That does make it feel more congested.”
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.
“Homes that are new and ready to move into, it’s hard to find,” Evans said. “We get calls every day, we get emails all the time, from people who are looking for those kinds of things.”