City looks to approve new portion of development code

Starkville City Hall (courtesy)
Staff Writer

The Starkville Board of Aldermen look to hold their first public hearing on the approval of sections one and two of the city’s Unified Development Code and facade requirements.

This will be the first of two public hearings for the board.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold one public hearing at a special call meeting at 12 p.m. on Feb. 20.

The first draft of the the Unified Development Code includes the introduction and the bodies and procedures.

“It’s mainly stuff that isn’t changing that much,” Director of the Community Development Department Buddy Sanders said. “The biggest thing that will come out of Tuesday, pertaining to section two is the creation of an architectural review committee.”

According to the first draft of sections one and two, the Architecture Review Committee will be composed of two representatives from Community Development with one representative being the City Planner and a minimum of one and a maximum of three independent consultants for reviewing building design proposals.

Sanders said the committee would essentially look at everything form a development standpoint. This includes materials, the use of materials, the angle of the view from various elevations, distances, colors mixing in with other surrounding areas and how the materials coordinate with each other.

“We are going to propose a mixture of consultants,” Sanders said. “Just to have someone who had local knowledge but also someone that may know of Starkville and be familiar with Starkville, but doesn’t really have ties to Starkville.”

For Starkville specifically, Sanders said there is not one “unified design characteristic” throughout the city. He said there are certain areas in town which need to adhere to what the surrounding area looks like.

Areas he pointed out were the Cotton District, Main Street and Highway 12.

As for the process, Sanders said the new Unified Development Code will be much more “user friendly”.

He said currently, anyone looking to build a business, improve their building or expansion, they must go through the codes numerous sections to answer the multitude of requirements, making it easier to miss what is needed.

Along with the numerous sections, Sanders said the city currently has layers and layers of ordinances that have never really been updated or reviewed on an annual basis.

“Yes, we’re always here to answer questions from the public,” Sanders said. “But if they can answer that at 2 a.m. in the morning by going to the zoning ordinance and it’s just clear as day, the new development code has served its purpose.”

Sanders said the purpose of the code rewrite is to keep Starkville above its competition and to make it easier for its residents and potential new businesses looking to come to Starkville.

“It’s mine and every director's responsibility to keep Starkville with the curve, or ahead of the curve,” Sanders said.

When asked if there would be any reason for people to be hesitant for the new code, Sanders said some of the current processes are extremely difficult and this would only make everyone’s lives easier from a development standpoint.

“There is nothing more frustrating than being confused or having doubt in someone’s mind,” Sanders said. “We’re trying to remove as much doubt from anyone’s mind as possible.”