A new subdivision is one step closer to approval this week after the Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission approved a preliminary report to rezone roughly 20 acres on the south side of town.

The subdivision, which is being developed by Valentine Property Development, will be located near the intersection of Lynn Lane and South Montgomery Street, directly south of the Maison de Ville subdivision.

This project has previously been considered by the city, but worries over stormwater drainage and negative traffic impacts have prevented it from moving forward.

Rain this year has already raised concerns about potential flooding around the city, with some residents even appearing before the Board of Aldermen as recently as June.

Pritchard Engineering's Clyde Pritchard assured the Commission Tuesday evening that after reviewing calculations, he was confident the project would not produce any more stormwater than was already there.

A proposed pond in the neighborhood also drew questions from Commission member Jeremiah Dumas, who asked if developers had considered children interacting with the pond. Pritchard said safety had been considered along with aesthetic value and the pond would be shelved, progressively getting deeper to avoid dramatic drop-offs.

City Attorney Chris Latimer also pointed out that two of the recommended conditions for the project laid out by the Commission did not have legal ground for the city to enforce.

The first condition asked developers to perform drainage impact analyses for two-year, 10-year and 100-year flood events. However, Latimer pointed out that the city's stormwater ordinance only required two- and 10-year reports.

Because of this inconsistency, Latimer said the city could ask developers to perform a 100-year flood event analysis but could not compel them to do so.

The second condition asked that infrastructure be constructed to control stormwater flowing off the property. This condition proved problematic because the land where infrastructure would be required to be built is not owned by the developers.

Developers did complete the required two and 10 year flood reports but nothing more. Commission members expressed concern that the effects of stormwater coming from the development would likely be problematic for those living downstream and would likely be something the city would have to address in the future.

Regarding the traffic, developers completed a traffic impact study and found that the intersection of Lynn Lane and South Montgomery Street to be problematic in certain situations.

A suggested solution offered is to change timings of traffic lights around the intersection to improve traffic flow.

In the past, the subdivision's entrance onto South Montgomery Street was also criticized. Developers changed the entrance to a "right in, right out" style intersection, making it impossible for residents of the proposed neighborhood to make a left northbound turn onto South Montgomery Street.

To further discourage dangerous left turns, installation of a curb in front of the right in, right out entrance, similar to the medians on Highway 12, though much less extensive.

Despite these concerns, the Commission was satisfied with the suggested solutions and approved the plan. It will now head to the Board of Aldermen for consideration.

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