By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Adjustments and Appeals will meet to discuss two variances for First Baptist Church’s new child care facility at 4 p.m. Wednesday in City Hall’s Community Development Department.
Pryor and Morrow Architects will present the variance requests on FBC’s behalf Wednesday, and one of the firm’s architects, Roger Pryor, said one of the variances would allow for a covered drop-off lane on Lafayette Street adjacent to the child care center. Ordinances governing the transect district where FBC plans to build the center typically require building fronts to be set back no more than 15 feet from the road, according to the city’s staff report, but the drop-off lane would require a 43-foot setback.
“Twenty-five percent of the church congregation are senior adults. Right now, it’s very difficult for those people to get into the church when it’s pouring down rain,” Pryor said. “It will also serve the children’s building, so it will be convenient for children. If someone’s in a wheelchair, they would have access to the church through there. So, it does a lot of really good things for the congregation.”
When the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission discussed FBC’s child care center Feb. 14, Pryor said the transect district’s 15-foot limit was the limitation that concerned church members most. The Starkville Board of Aldermen ratified transect districts and the form-based codes that govern them in February 2012 to 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.
Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said the city’s recent adoption of the form-based codes had driven city officials’ desire to adhere closely to them. She said the problem did not lie specifically with the idea of a drop-off lane.
“It is no different than any other kind of ingress and egress from the city’s standpoint. In terms of transport and accessibility, I don’t think the city has any issues with that,” Spruill said. “It’s going to come down more to the aesthetics and the nature of the T5 (transect) district that the board has indicated, through their adoption of it, is important.”
Pryor said the second variance would prevent his firm and FBC from having to adjust architectural plans for the child care center itself. Typically, he said, the transect district limited lot width and building width to 120 feet.
“This building is about 20 feet over that,” Pryor said. “I don’t think there will be any opposition (to this variance).”
Pryor said if the appeals board approved these variances, the final decision would lie with the board of aldermen March 5. Pryor said he expected aldermen would support the project, and he hoped to be able to start it soon.
“I think the church is very excited to move forward and get this project going,” Pryor said. “I hope we’re close to the end of our hurdles with the approval process.”