Developer awaits OK to clean property

Usually, governments have to wait on property owners help them visually improve their towns.
But on Tuesday, local developer Mark Welch withdrew his application to the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone his property from a residential district to a commercial one — initially a move for legal permission to spruce up an “eyesore” by building a parking lot for his employees at Sonic Drive-in, enclosing his dumpster, building a large fence and developing green space between Sonic and a neighborhood close by.
“I just want to clean up that corner,” Welch said to the commissioners, who were reluctant to change the zoning after hearing complaints of noise, littering and dangerous traffic from residential neighbors of the property who live on Vine Street.
Welch purchased the property in 2003 and tried twice to change its zoning to C-2, but the commission denied his request both times, and the Starkville Board of Aldermen upheld both denials.
“If I knew I’d run into this many problems with this, I never would have bought it,” Welch said.
In efforts to work with Welch without compromising the integrity of zoning laws, commission Chair Jerry Emison suggested that Welch apply to change his property to a buffer zone and conditional use of that zoning at the same time.
“It sounds like it’s doable,” said commissioner Dora Herring.
Welch said he would clean up his property in any zone that the commission would approve. Vine Street could, however, undergo new development after the commission unanimously recommended to the Board of Aldermen plans for “Vine Street Cove Subdivision,” allowing four residential lots on a site that’s almost an acre.
Additionally, the commission also unanimously recommended of a property owner’s conditional use of a zero lot line cluster development that would permit the addition of a manufactured home to a group of similar homes on Sudduth Road without having to spot zone the area.