By STEVEN NALLEY
At its meeting Tuesday, the Starkville Board of Aldermen will consider whether or not to adopt an amendment to city code which would allow subdivision developers to choose to build streets in a single phase instead of being restricted to two-phase construction.
Before this consideration, the board will hold a second public hearing on the amendment. The first public hearing was held Nov. 1, with only one citizen, Alvin Turner, speaking against it.
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.
At the meeting, City Engineer Edward Kemp will give a presentation on estimated costs for several alternatives to address storm water drainage issues on Maple Drive and Carver Drive. Jason Wooten of Pepper-Wooten Engineers and Surveyors presented these alternatives to the board at its meeting Oct. 18. The slides for Kemp’s presentation can be found in the meeting’s e-packet on the city’s website at http://www.cityofstarkville.org/detail.php?p=3&s=49 .
According to this presentation, expenses for Carver Drive range from $175,000 to $850,000. Expenses for Maple Drive, it says, range from $400,000 to $850,000.
Kemp will also present the results of a traffic study of the intersections of Garrard Road and North Montgomery Street and Garrard Road and Old West Point Road. Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman requested the study during the board’s Aug. 2 meeting, where the board approved installation of traffic signal lights at both intersections of the new Garrard Road extension.
The staff report for the results recommends the city rescind the traffic light installation on the basis of the study, performed by the Neel-Schaffer engineering firm. While the intersections may warrant signals in the future, it says, traffic patterns currently indicate it does not.
The board will also consider two requests for qualifications, advertising for consulting firms for two city projects. The first RFQ is for a consultant to help the city create a redevelopment district and redevelopment authority.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said Mississippi law allows a city to target areas for redevelopment and establish a redevelopment authority as a governing board for policies which aid development in those areas. He said no specific areas have been selected for redevelopment yet, but plans call for the consultant to help select those areas.
“The first major discussion about the benefits of a redevelopment authority arose through the charrette process that was held last spring,” Wiseman said. “Redevelopment authorities are quite common around the state, particularly in large and mid-size cities, and they offer a means of enacting growth policies to enable areas targeted for redevelopment to see new development that might not happen on its own.”
The second RFQ is for a consultant to assist the city in the redistricting process to meet federal requirements resulting from the 2010 census.
Federal regulations require the city to keep the population of its wards as balanced as possible, so cities look at which wards are under- or over-populated after each census. Cities then redraw borders to rebalance the population, making every effort to keep current city officials within the wards they represent.
Lynn Spruill, chief operating officer for Starkville, gave a presentation July 5 on the wards which made it apparent more than a few officials lived near current ward borders, putting them at risk for losing office if the borders cannot be made to include them. At that meeting, Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins said the matter should be tabled until fall. Otherwise, he said, the municipal complex bond issue and the city’s budget process would distract the public from the redistricting issue.
The board held its first work session on redistricting Oct. 25, and Perkins then said the four computer-generated proposal maps shown at the work session created issues with the Voting Rights Act. Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said he cannot get adequate treatment for his ward’s current problems, but the proposed maps would increase responsibilities in his ward anyway.
Wiseman said the maps had been created without regard for politics by Andrew Nagel, the city’s geographic information systems coordinator. He also said the maps were only meant as starting points for redistricting.
Starkville Chief Administrative Officer Lynn Spruill said Wards 1 and 3 both have populations above 3,413, the number which would balance all seven wards. She said other wards in the city would have to gain residents to achieve balance, with no ward requiring more than 1,000 extra residents.