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Zoning change, form-based codes get public hearings

November 7, 2011

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission will hold three public hearings at its meeting Tuesday at City Hall.
The first public hearing concerns a zoning change from R-1 (single-family residential) to R-6 (mobile homes) at 1641 Rockhill Rd. as requested by Louise Page. The second concerns repealing and replacing the city’s current chart of permitted land uses. Finally, the third concerns an amendment allowing for implementation of form-based codes drafted by Placemakers.
Page first made her re-zoning request at the commission’s Oct. 12 meeting. After errors were found in the planner’s report concerning the number of acres to be re-zoned, Page withdrew her request with intent to submit it again with a revised report at the commission’s November meeting.
The new report says Page owns approximately 13 acres of property that she wants re-zoned to allow her grandson to place a mobile home on her property as his primary residence. It says most of the adjacent property owners are members of Page’s family.
Currently, only one mobile home is on the property, the report says, but more than 30 mobile homes are in the Rockhill Road area, far outnumbering the conventional homes. The report also says the planning office has already approved six other requests for R-1-to-R-6 re-zonings in the area to date.
In regard to land usage and form based codes, the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission typically sets rules for how property can be used in certain areas, including commercial, industrial and residential use. Form-based codes set more focused architectural guidelines in certain areas to encourage certain types of land use, allowing developers to build better projects with fewer administrative steps.
The new land use chart is intended to streamline the city’s chart of conditional and permitted land uses. The commission began this streamlining process when Placemakers prepared the first draft of its form-based codes without consulting the city’s current land use chart, resulting in inconsistencies between the code draft and the chart. Placemakers’ current draft of the form-based codes uses the new land use chart draft.
At a work session on Oct. 25, the commission decided to let Placemakers present the current form-based code draft at a public hearing Nov. 8. On Oct. 25, Jerry Emison, chair of the commission, said a work session would follow but could spill over into a work session separate from the regular meeting.
If the public response is too large for a single public hearing, Emison said, a second public hearing could be held during the regular December meeting. He said it will be important to give any interested citizens the chance to voice their concerns without strict time limits.
“If you rush it, you mess it up,” Emison said. “This is one of those things where if you want it bad, you get it bad.”
The latest drafts of the proposed land use chart and the form-based codes are available as part of the e-packet for the meeting on the city’s website at http://www.cityofstarkville.org/detail.php?p=7&s=50.

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