By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday to grant Louise Page’s request for her property to be rezoned to allow trailers, but aldermen reduced the re-zoned area from about 13 acres to 2.29 acres to decrease impact on nearby infrastructure.
On Nov. 8, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the board deny Page’s request, and Page chose to appeal this decision. Page requested a zoning change from R-1 (single-family residential) to R-6 (mobile homes) for approximately 13 acres of property she owns at 1641 Rockhill Road to allow her grandson to place a mobile home on her property as his primary residence.
Early in the meeting, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins announced his intent to recuse himself from the vote and discussion for the re-zoning. He said he knew Page through church, politics and other community dealings, and on the opposite side of the issue, he also had dealings with the family of the late Wilburn Sudduth. He wanted to avoid a conflict of interest, he said.
“I really respect both sides,” Perkins said. To preserve and protect my relationship and my role with that, I will step aside. I’m not dodging any issue. I don’t dodge issues.”
After Pamela Daniel, assistant city planner, completed her report to the board on the issue, Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn asked why the zoning commission recommended disapproval to begin with. Daniel said it was because of the size of the re-zoning.
At the Nov. 8 meeting, City Attorney Chris Latimer said the issue of re-zoning had nothing to do with the size of the property to be re-zoned. On Tuesday, he again said Page’s request met a legal test for re-zoning by arguing the original R-1 zoning was in error because Page already had her own trailer on the property when the land was annexed to the city and zoned R-1, and several other parcel owners with trailers in her area have successfully gotten their properties re-zoned R-6 in the past.
As with the zoning commission meetings where Page’s request was discussed, the city held a public hearing, with several people raising objections to the request. One of them was Larry Bell, owner of property to Page’s west.
“I don’t believe any of you would want a 13-acre trailer park next to your land,” Bell said. “That’s too much for a single trailer. That’s what her request is.”
Another nearby landowner, Ann Daniels, said it was a mistake to argue the original zoning was in error. She said there was a misconception that R-6 zoning did not exist when Page’s land was annexed, and she had attended meetings concerning the annexation which demonstrated Page’s area was purposely zoned R-1 after thorough discussion.
“It wasn’t a haphazard decision and a mistake by those people back then,” Daniels said. “They worked too hard. The people made this choice back then.”
Ultimately, Vaughn moved for the approval of Page’s rezoning request, and Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk seconded it.
Then, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas moved for an amendment to Vaughn’s motion which would reduce the size of the re-zoning to 2.29 acres. Dumas said there was a provision in Page’s request where she said she would be open to re-zoning a single acre if the zoning commission and board refused to re-zone all 13 acres. Daniel confirmed this, and then at Wiseman’s request, Page confirmed she would be amenable to a 2.29 acre re-zoning.
“That amendment will (rezone) all of Mrs. Page’s property within a 400-foot buffer of the west right-of-way of Rock Hill Road,” Dumas said. “I agree with the fact that there is an error. I also agree that, frankly, there’s probably even a public need, but I disagree with the impact that 13 acres will have on infrastructure in the entire area. I’m fearful of going 13 acres.”
If the amended measure had failed, discussion would have returned to Vaughn’s original motion, but it passed unanimously.