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60 houses planned for city

NATCHEZ — The addition of 60 houses in the Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Catherine streets area could begin as early as May or June, Mayor Butch Brown said Monday night.

Brown’s comments came after the Natchez Board of Aldermen heard a presentation from Chartre Consulting during a dinner meeting Monday at Magnolia Bluffs Casino. The company wants to partner with the city to develop scattered site, affordable housing.

Chartre also built the Stonehurst housing development, renamed Old Bridge Place, at the corner of St. Catherine and Rembert streets.

The board met in executive session for discussion of the prospective purchase, sale or leasing of land, which is allowed by the open meetings law.

Mayor Butch Brown originally said the plan was to build 100 houses downtown.

“The 100 number was the number first tossed out probably 60 days ago,” he said. “Right now we’re just working on the sites we have available. I want them to do 100 or more, and I suspect if we can get them 100 sites, they will be amicable to making it happen.”

The meeting was productive, Brown said, and the aldermen were able to have their questions answered by Chartre representatives.

“I don’t think we left any stone unturned,” Brown said.

The 60 houses could include, Brown said, rehabilitated houses, duplexes, townhouses and possibly a small in-field housing subdivision. The houses will also meet historic Natchez guidelines, Brown said.

Construction could begin as early as the end of May or early June, the mayor said.

The housing, Brown said, would be scattered and developed on city- and state-owned lots, as well as private and adjudicated properties. Adjudicated properties are placed in local and state government hands in a variety of situations, such as when property taxes are not paid.

Habitat for Humanity Natchez chapter secretary Duncan McFarlane also attended the meeting, Brown said, to reassure city officials that the housing would not be taking lots away from Habitat for prospective development.

Brown said the city has not yet decided which legal procedure it will use to sell the property to Chartre. By state law, the city can advertise the property and accept bids.

Under Mississippi code 21-17-1, the city can sell or lease public property without advertising it or accepting bids if the board of aldermen determines:

•The property is no longer needed for municipal purposes or is not being used for municipal purposes.

•The sale of the property through the bid process is not necessary or desirable for the financial welfare of the city.

•The use of such property for the purpose for which it is sold or leased will promote and foster the development and improvement of the community.

The city can also donate or sell property for less than fair market value to a non-profit, such as Habitat for Humanity, as it has done in the past and plans to do in the future, Brown said.

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