The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission approved a final plat of the subdivision of the Northstar Industrial Park Tuesday.

Upon approval by the Board of Aldermen, the 348-acre industrial park located north of the city will be divided into six lots zoned as M-1 or light industry.

After years of litigation, the Mississippi Supreme Court in September denied an appeal over a dispute regarding the property being rezoned from residential to commercial to manufacturing.

Tuesday's approval to divide the park into six lots opens the door for companies to enter the nearly $15 million development, breathing life into the project.

Garan Manufacturing announced plans earlier this year to build a new building in the park and relocate from its current Highway 12 property.

Another subdivision was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday. The neighborhood, named Portico, will eventually cover 11 acres and have a total of 51 lots.

The approved plat on Tuesday was only for phase one of the neighborhood, however, which will be just over four acres with 18 lots.

Phase one of Portico will be built on Garrard Road, near the intersection with Old West Point Road, should Aldermen approve the subdivision.

UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT CODE

An update on the proposed unified development code was presented Tuesday as well.

City Planner Daniel Havelin informed members of the commission about some of the policies related to the document.

Ward 1 Commissioner Jason Camp of Ward 1 asked if Havelin had received any comments about the proposed architecture review committee, a proposed independent body that would be responsible for approving building designs and permits.

Camp voiced concern that such a committee could make personalized decisions for buildings based on an individual's interpretation of a wide list of criteria.

Havelin said some aspects of the code would be up to personal interpretation but there would be no mechanism in the document allowing someone to decline a permit or design purely on the basis of not liking it.

Ward 5 Commissioner Alexis Gregory also asked about the controversial proposed policies for short-term rentals present in the unified development code.

The policies would force residents to pay a $300 permit fee to temporarily rent out their property using services like AirBnB while sharply limiting the number of days they would be able to rent.

Kim Sungman, the city's community development director, said the policies were a "moving target" and he had created several alternatives following the public backlash at last week's Aldermen meeting and public input session.

Sungman said he was still unsure what policies on short-term rentals would be in the final draft of the city's code and noted regulations could vary form nonexistent to very strict.

The short-term rental policies will be required to pass through the Planning and Zoning Commission as part of the unified development code, allowing members to make formal recommendations before Aldermen vote on the document.

Another public input session on the unified development code will be held on Oct. 22 at City Hall. Aldermen will hold a public hearing on the 300-plus page document on Oct. 15 as part of their scheduled meeting.

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