City holds first public hearing regarding potential new parking ordinance

Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen hosted its first public hearing regarding the potential new parking ordinance in residential areas during its meeting last week.

Starkville City Planner Daniel Havelin provided a presentation to the board, where he went over the different scenarios.

Havelin said Starkville is a university town, with a great amount of rental businesses. He said those rentals range from multi-family complexes to single family homes.

“We recognize this as a legitimate sector of our local economy,” Havelin said.

Havelin said the intention of the ordinance is not to limit those of people’s livelihood, but to protect the property value of those adjacent property owners and character of the neighborhood.

The discussions of a potential new ordinance arose in December of last year after meeting with constituents of Ward 5, who voiced their concerns.

“One of the consistent issues was the use of single family houses as rental properties for college students,” Havelin said.

After discussing the issues in greater depth, Havelin said one of the main problems was the parking created by those renting single family homes.

He said the houses do not have enough existing parking to accommodate the number of residents within the house.

“The intent of this proposed ordinance is to take the pressure off the on-street parking, and not to eliminate street parking because it serves a legitimate purpose,” Havelin said.

Havelin said the issue with storing recreational vehicles and parking in the front yard has been a “consistent” complaint of the code enforcement and city staff. He said these complaints have come in from every ward and is not “isolated” to Ward 5.

Havelin said the Community Development Department began researching residential parking regulations in comparable cities, which include Tupelo, Hattiesburg, Oxford, Ridgeland and Brandon.

He said all of those city’s have regulations to parking in the front yard. He said Tupelo is a larger city in the region, Oxford is a college town, while Ridgeland and Brandon are comparable in size to Starkville.

In the proposed ordinance, off-street parking would be provided in all non-transect district zoned properties and all offstreet parking shall be accessible to a street or alley.

Each required parking space would not be less than nine feet in width and 18 feet in length.

There needs to be “adequate space” for ingress and egress to all spaces.

The minimum drive aisle width for parking lots will be determined by the Development Review CommitteeAs for the residential use parking requirements, the proposed ordinance breaks down five different categories. In those categories, it includes number of required spaces, off-street parking requirements, recreational vehicles and equipment, exceptions from off-street parking and variances.

For the number of required spaces, the proposed ordinance says for a lot with two or less dwelling units, the parking should total at one parking space per bedroom.

For a lot with three or more dwelling units the parking should total at one and a quarter parking spaces per bedroom.

Havelin said the reasoning behind having the number per bedroom, is for families who will have children who would potentially drive in the future.

Off-street parking would only be permitted on a hard surface. Parking would not be permitted on the open lawn area from the front façade of the building to the street. A hard surface shall be defined as either concrete, asphalt, gravel, or pavers. The maximum driveway width for the proposed ordinance would be 20 feet at the edge of pavement at the street.

According to the ordinance, gravel driveways should have a concrete apron that is a minimum of eight feet from the property to the edge of pavement at the street. The design of the apron should prevent loose gravel from being deposited on the sidewalk and roadway.

Recreational vehicles and equipment are defined in the ordinance as travel trailers, motor homes, utility trailers, boats, personal watercraft, all-terrain vehicles, dumpsters and temporary storage containers. Recreational vehicles and equipment should be stored behind the nearest portion of a building to the street in either the side yard, rear yard, garage, carport or an enclosed building.

For loading and unloading, recreational vehicles and equipment should be permitted to park anywhere on the property for a maximum of 24 hours.

Parking of recreational vehicles and equipment are not permitted on any public street for a period in excess of 24 hours.

According to the ordinance, recreational vehicles cannot be used as a dwelling. Recreational vehicles can be used as short term sleeping quarters during home game weekends for Mississippi State University for a maximum of three nights consecutively, not to exceed 30 days within a calendar year.

During the short term period, one recreational vehicle may be parked in the driveway of an occupied dwelling as long as the vehicle does not block public sidewalks or protrude into the street.

Parking of automobiles is permitted in the front yard during home game weekends for MSU from 12:00 p.m. Friday to 12:00 p.m. Sunday.

Parking of utility trailers and temporary storage containers shall be permitted in the front yard of any structure with an active building permit.

It states all utility trailers and temporary storage containers shall be removed once construction activities have ended.

After comments from aldermen, RVs and boat storage is allowed if it can’t be located on the side of the house due to physical constraints.

The removal of trees is not required or preferred.

There will also be an addition to allow recreational vehicles on major holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving.

As for exceptions from off-street parking requirements, parking of automobiles is permitted in the front yard for private events for a period not to exceed 12 hours.

Private event parking exceptions shall be limited to no more than three events within a calendar year.

For variances, the Planning Department has the discretion to approve any site or building plan that deviates less than 10 percent from number of required spaces and the off-street parking requirements prescribed in this section.

Any other deviation from the number of required spaces or the offstreet parking requirements not approved by the Planning Department would be required to receive approval through the variance process.

All variances shall be noticed as a public hearing.

During the first public hearing about five residents showed support of proposed the proposed ordinance.

Many complained how yard parking and storing of recreational vehicles are decreasing property values. The residents also said the congestion of vehicles on the streets invokes danger for drivers and pedestrians.

The ordinance first came to fruition after Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller held town hall meetings with his constituents. He said once this was brought to his attention, he looked to call for a public hearing and a draft of a new ordinance.

There will be a second public hearing for the proposed ordinance, and the details are subject to change.