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Retirement community plans in the works

NATCHEZ — Plans for a retirement community on John R. Junkin Drive could be ready for review by the Natchez Planning Commission next month.

Mayor Butch Brown said Thursday that he believes it is the developer’s intention to appear before the planning commission at its March meeting with plans for a “life care community.”

City Planner Frankie Legaux told the Natchez Planning Commission at its Thursday meeting that Evans has submitted preliminary plans to the city for a “life care community” at the site to be combined with nearby Glenburney Nursing Home, which Evans also developed.

The new building, Legaux said, would be three stories, with rehabilitation facilities on two floors and assisted living on one floor. The building, she said, has been scaled down from the center that was originally proposed and denied by the city.

The city denied the application of the developer, Gail Evans, in 2009 to build a nursing center at the site, which neighbors Glenwood subdivision.

Work started at the site last November to construct a turn lane to the property, which Evans has owned for 32 years.

Work continued at the site to grade the land, but that work was done without a permit from the city.

Brown said city staff notified him earlier this month that Evans did not have a permit to grade the site. Brown said he instructed city staff to issue an “at-risk permit” for the work since it was already being done. Brown said Evans was unaware that he needed a permit to grade the property.

Legaux told the planning commission that the engineering department approved plans Thursday to install a silt fence on the property to prevent dirt washing away. Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith said at the last board of aldermen meeting that dirt from the site had washed onto a nearby road.

The planning commission and the board of aldermen denied Evans’ request in 2009 to rezone the 3.6-acre parcel of land to allow construction of a nursing center.

To develop a nursing center, the R-1 residential zoned piece of land would have to be rezoned as a special use district.

Former city planner Rusty Lewis said in 2009 that he believed the land was originally intended to be zoned as a special use district.

He said a mapping error had it incorrectly shown as an R-1 area like Glenwood subdivision.

Many residents of the Glenwood subdivision appeared before the board of aldermen in 2009 to voice concerns about rezoning the property.

Legaux told the planning commission at its meeting that the planning department has recently received some complaints about the work at site.

In other news from the planning commission meeting:

-After hearing objections from residents, the commission approved the application of Trace City Baptist Church to construct a metal building for a fellowship hall.

Legaux read to the commission seven letters of objection, which mainly included concerns with the aesthetic appearance of the building and its effect on neighboring property value.

Nearby resident Jan Byrne said she felt allowing the metal building would set precedence for other metal buildings to be permitted on Fatherland Road.

Legaux explained that the metal building is allowed by city code, and the planning commission does not regulate the aesthetic appearance of a building.

Commission Karen Stubbs noted that the approval would not set precedence because, she said, there are a number of metal buildings already in Natchez.

The next planning commission meeting will be at 5:15 p.m. March 21 in the Natchez City Council Chambers.