By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a specially called public hearing 5:30 p.m. Thursday at City Hall to consider recommending approval of a zoning change from R-1 (single-family residential) to R-M (mobile home).
The rezoning request from Shenestia Thompson to rezone approximately 5 acres of property at 1646 Rockhill Road first arose at a Feb. 14 commission meeting, and it has been tabled ever since. Thompson wants to replace an older manufactured home on the property with a newer one. A report from Assistant City Planner Pamela Daniel states the new manufactured home is already on the property but will not be occupied until the property is rezoned, city utilities are connected and a building permit is issued.
“(The commissioners) were willing to have a specially called meeting to hear it rather than prolonging it until the regularly scheduled planning and zoning meeting of Aug. 14,” Daniel said. “With the special called meeting, that means the item will go before the (Starkville Board of Aldermen) for consideration Aug. 7, rather than having to wait until Sept. 4.”
The commission tabled Thompson’s request Feb. 14 because questions arose about the parcel’s ownership at the commission’s meeting at City Hall. At that meeting, City Attorney Chris Latimer said city staff had asked him whether or not Thompson had sufficient evidence that she was the owner of the property in question.
“That’s important because, under our ordinance, only the owner or someone with a concurrence of all of the owners of the property can try to bring forth an application to have a property rezoned,” Latimer said. “City staff investigated the ownership of this parcel, and it was determined by that investigation that the parcel is listed (as) owned by the Thomas Brooks estate, and that the Thomas Brooks estate has been paying taxes on this particular parcel.
“There was no written proof presented to city staff in this application of what the Thomas Brooks estate consists of, what entity or person, or who can sign off on behalf of the Thomas Brooks estate,” Latimer added. “In the packet, both Emma Gillespie and Katherine Williams represent that they’re the only surviving heirs of the Thomas Brooks estate, and the city doesn’t have any reason to disbelieve that or disagree with that, but it is incumbent on the city to act with documentary proof of ownership when it comes to rezoning.”
In her report for this week’s meeting, Daniel said a court order determining the property has 26 legal heirs was signed Monday, enabling the Thompson family to proceed with the rezoning request. The report also makes a distinction between R-6 zoning the planning office has recommended to allow placement of mobile homes in the past and the R-M zoning the office recommends for Thompson’s property. While R-6 zoning allows for mobile home parks and subdivisions by right, the report says, R-M zoning does not, limiting land use to conventional and manufactured single-family residences.