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Cotton District project granted zoning variance

March 24, 2011

A proposed four-unit development near the Cotton District neighborhood took a step forward Wednesday as city officials granted the project a variance from density requirements.
Starkville’s Board of Adjustments and Appeals voted to allow the developers of the High Cotton condominium project to exceed a per-acre, gross density standard.
The 0.26-acre site is located about 300 feet east of Jarnigan Street on Russell Street’s north side. It is across from the Cotton Crossing shopping center and is located in the R-5 high-density, multi-family zoning class.
The city requires a maximum of 15 dwelling units per acre, but High Cotton went beyond the limit at 15.38 units per acre.
The panel’s approval included several conditions, including that:
• The project not exceed the four proposed units.
• Development officials submit the preliminary plat to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission within 60 days of the panel’s granting of the variance.
• Project officials obtain a building permit and start work within six months of the point when the Board of Aldermen sign off on a final plat.
• The variance would become void if these conditions aren’t met.
Board Member Milo Burnham asked the definition of “dwelling unit.”
City Planner Ben Griffith looked up “dwelling” as defined in the code and read it to the board.
“A house or other building used for residential purposes except that the word ‘dwelling’ shall not include boarding houses or rooming houses, bed and breakfast inns, tents, tourist camps, hotels, trailers, trailer camps or other structures used primarily for transient residents,” with Griffith clarifying that “transient” means those making an overnight stay in a hotel.
The three components which make a dwelling unit generally are sleeping quarters, bathing facilities and a kitchen, Griffith said.
Burnham expressed his view that the project had “absolutely no green space.”
Griffith responded that the development meets the minimum standard.
A note on the plat shows the project will have 1,224.67 square feet of green space, with 565.25 – or 5 percent – as the requirement.
A couple of people who live near the proposed development indicated support.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Dennis Nordin, who identified himself as someone who owns property near – though not exactly at – the project site.
Board Member Bill Poe says he lives within two blocks of the development and said he also favors it.
The item came to the Adjustment and Appeals panel after city officials forwarded the project plat for review before Planning and Zoning. The city’s attorney recommended the developers seek a variance to err “on the side of caution,” Griffith told the panel.
City regulations do allow minor changes when plats are submitted for review and approval, a report on the appeal reads.
After the meeting, Griffith said the project could go back before the planning panel on April 12. The project applicant is Boardtown LLC.

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