Former city planner to be hired to tailor codes to NatchezPublished 12:15am Wednesday, September 26, 2012
NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez will use $30,000 from a grant it received several years ago to hire a former city planner to rewrite the city’s building codes and zoning ordinances.consistent
Community Development Director James Johnston reported to the Natchez Board of Aldermen during its finance meeting that the city received verbal permission from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to use $30,000 in economic development initiative grant funds to hire a consultant to update the city’s building codes and zoning ordinances.
The city has in the past used the EDI grant for website development and to fund the city’s portion of plans for the proposed recreation complex.
Mayor Butch Brown said after the board’s regular meeting that the city will hire Phil Walker, who served as planner from 1991 to 1993, to rewrite the city’s codes and ordinances.
Brown said Walker is very knowledgeable in city planning, and reworking the code is long overdue.
The city’s current code, Brown said, is a “one size fits all” code that was not tailored to meet the needs of a smaller, historic community like Natchez.
“We want to make it more user friendly and business friendly and end up with a code that meets the needs of Natchez,” he said.
Brown said the city will hire Walker once the city’s recently hired planner, Frankie Legaux of North Carolina, is settled in Natchez. Legaux is scheduled to start Oct. 15.
In other news from the meeting:
-Brown said during his report that the city is nearly ready to purchase 18 laptops for Natchez police patrol cars. He said Magnolia Bluffs Casino has agreed to purchase the laptops, which will cost approximately $27,000 to $32,400.
-Brown informed the aldermen about a “utility round up” program used by the City of Tupelo. The program, Brown said, rounds up residents’ utility bills to the next dollar.
The funds collected from rounding up the bills, Brown said, are used for quality of life enhancement initiatives, such as trails or beautification projects.
“It is my thought that we could do something like that on our water and sewer bills,” Brown said.
The amount collected from each resident would be very small, Brown said, but would contribute greatly to enhance quality of life.
The program was brought to the mayor by Johnston, who said he discovered it after talking with Tupelo officials about several initiatives in the city.
Johnston said he is planning a trip to Tupelo soon and hopes to learn more about beneficial programs in Tupelo that could be replicated in Natchez.
-Brown said during his report that the city has received several applications for an accountant in the city clerk’s office during the three-week period since they city began advertising for the position.
The city, Brown said, will begin scheduling interviews this week.
The city is in the process of identifying surplus property on the city inventory, Brown said, that can be sold for tax generating revenue.
Brown reported that the city has prospective buyers for some of the property and said the aldermen gave him permission to proceed with those projects.
-The board met in executive session for approximately an hour regarding personnel and economic development.
-Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis was not present at the meeting because of out-of-town business.
The board’s next scheduled meeting is at 11 a.m. Oct. 9.