The Starkville Board of Aldermen will hold a special call meeting today that will include a briefing, presentation and discussion of the draft of the city’s Unified Development Code.

The meeting will be held in the second floor conference room at City Hall at 2 p.m.

The Unified Development Code is a single document containing all of the city's development codes. Combining the many codes in one place is meant to make development projects easier for developers.

Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill said today’s meeting is intended as a briefing on an expansive subject that needs to be offered in a summary type fashion for those who will not be expected to read every word.

“The city planners who have in-depth knowledge will share the highlights of the changes that are part of the code,” she said. “I expect there will be some questions from the board. The public input sessions have been held and we are now moving into briefing the board of those results and then into the public hearings in preparation for the adoption of the code.”

The Starkville Daily News reported in September that the city’s planning department is also set to hold two public hearings on the matter on Dec. 3 and 17.

Aside from the public hearings, the city held two public input sessions, first on Oct. 3 then on Oct. 22.

A unified development code is a part of a city's comprehensive plan, which are documents that lay the groundwork for the continued growth of a municipality, plotting out how changes will be made as new projects are adopted.

Starkville last approved a new comprehensive plan in 2016 under former mayor Parker Wiseman.

Updates on the zoning change coming to the new comprehensive plan were presented to the Board of Aldermen on Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 as part of two separate public hearings on the issue.

The Starkville Daily News previously reported that one goal of updating the zoning regulations in the city is to reduce the amount of rezoning occurrences and variances.

In 2018, the city had 10 rezoning incidents and 11 variances incidents.

According to guidelines to the draft provided to the Starkville Daily News from the city’s Planning and Development Department, virtually every zoning district in the city has changed, with residential zones with existing development reclassified based off of current density.

This and other changes have been formally added to the draft of the UDC, which both clarifies language pertaining to different components of the city’s development code, and reorganizing certain processes.

Rezoning happens when the purpose of a plot of land is changed by the city, such as changing defunct residential neighborhoods into commercial zones.

Variances only happen when in specific instances when some aspect of a property violates a code ordinance, and the property owner successfully appeals to the city for an exception. Variances must be found to not be a hindrance on the community.

Starkville last adopted a zoning map in 2013.

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