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Condos may join land use, codes among hearings

January 3, 2012

By STEVEN NALLEY
citybeat@bellsouth.net

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman will propose a public hearing to adopt a condominium ordinance, and both a new land-use chart and form-based codes will see their second public hearings at a meeting of the Starkville Board of Aldermen 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
Wiseman said there is currently no process in city code which speaks to the division of property in an individual, residential condominium building rather than the land divisions of a typical subdivision. He said the proposed ordinance and the amendments to city code will recognize condominiums as a separate type of residential property and speak to specific processes.
“What we’re seeing is increased demand for condominium development,” Wiseman said. “We think, by virtue of the fact that this is a college town, that there is potential for that market to grow in the future. We’re seeking to develop a process for condominium development that is as easy to navigate and as organized as possible.”
The city held the first public hearings for both the form-based codes and the new land-use chart Dec. 20, and one commenter, Guyton Properties partner Mark Guyton, raised questions about the form-based codes essentially acting as a re-zoning of several properties at once. Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas also made several revisions to the form-based codes, leading City Attorney Chris Latimer to recommend an extra public hearing be held on the matter to allow the board and the public to fully assess the amended document.
Dumas’ amendments include:
- Revisions to the codes’ zoning map.
- New language saying the graphics shown in the code are meant to provide overall design guidance, not specific architectural form guidance.
- A new section requiring amendments of the transect district classifications to be advertised and noticed, like the city’s regular zoning amendments.
- A new section requiring exceptions to the codes to be advertised, like conditional land uses.
Typically, the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission 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 their form-based codes without consulting the city’s current land-use chart. Inconsistencies between the code draft and the chart resulted, and both the city and Placemakers have worked to resolve those inconsistencies in the months since.
Placemakers has been working on drafts for the form-based codes since May, and the zoning commission has been reviewing drafts of the codes and the land-use chart since October. Placemakers has revised the codes over the past few months to address concerns members of the commission have raised. The commission has also made numerous revisions to the streamlined land-use chart.

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