By STEVEN NALLEY
The Starkville Board of Aldermen held a public hearing Tuesday on an amendment to the city code which would allow subdivision developers to choose to build streets in a single phase instead of being restricted to two-phase construction.
Currently, crews can only complete the bottom layer of asphalt at the first phase of construction and they must wait until the houses are 80-85 percent complete before they can add the top layer. The amendment would allow crews to complete the road all at once, while still allowing them the option to build it in two phases if desired.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman opened the public hearing by expressing support for the amendment. He said he had come to this conclusion after discussing the issue with City Engineer Edward Kemp.
“Because of economic conditions, we’re seeing developments take longer to build out, which means you’ve got a much longer period, in some cases 10 years or longer, where you’ve got an uncompleted street that the existing residents in that neighborhood are stuck with until that subdivision’s 85 percent built out,” Wiseman said. “If you had one-stage construction as an option and developers chose to utilize that option, then those residents would have a completed street for the time while that subdivision’s still in development.”
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said he was concerned about the problems one-stage construction can cause in the long term.
“From all I’ve been told, the majority of the heavy-load traffic happens during the construction phase, so basically, you can imagine putting the street down and then coming back and fixing the patches,” Carver said. “It’s going to get torn up during the construction phase.”
Carver also questioned the idea of the amendment being friendly to developers, asking if there were other developers out of town who commonly use one-stage construction who might be attracted to Starkville if it were allowed. Ward 2 Alderman Sandra Sistrunk answered his question.
“I have seen developments outside the city of Starkville in south Mississippi where the subdivisions are perhaps 30 percent built out, and they have complete streets and sidewalks,” Sistrunk said. “It’s much more attractive for people who are living there during the developments.”
Wiseman said it was important to note the amendment would not require one-stage construction, only allow a choice between one- and two-stage construction. He said two-stage construction has its share of problems as well.
“What happens when the road’s partially complete is sometimes it sits below the drainage system, so (water drains into the incomplete roadway) rather than draining off to the side,” Wiseman said. “The reality of the situation is that there are positive sides and downsides to doing it both ways. I think there are enough potential positives and few enough potential downsides to do it at one stage to where it’s just as good, if not better, than two-stage and ought to be an option for developers.”
When Wiseman opened the floor to public comments for and against the amendment, only one commenter came forward. Speaking against the amendment, Alvin Turner said any amendments to city code confuse citizens to begin with, and there are already confusing issues with subdivision roads.
“We have Carver Drive; the people are suffering,” Turner said. “We have other subdivisions where it says, ‘No trucks.’ People don’t understand what that means. You need to make it plain. If it says ‘No trucks,’ how do our electric department and sanitation department serve subdivisions when it says ‘No trucks?’ How thick is the asphalt? How much weight can it hold? Make it plain to where we can understand and know.”