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Board hearing rezoning for proposed assisted-living facility

Editor’s note: The following story as published in the July 23 edition of The Natchez Democrat inaccurately reported the rezoning efforts of the developer. The developer seeks to change the zoning of the property to an R-3 mixed density residential zone. The correction is reflected in the story below. We regret the error and are glad to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — The architect for a proposed assisted-living facility on John R. Junkin Drive is scheduled to appear before the Natchez Board of Aldermen today for a public hearing on the project.

But Glenwood subdivision residents appointed to represent the neighborhood in meetings with the architect say they don’t expect any official action today.

The hearing is scheduled for the board’s monthly meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at the City Council Chambers. The project’s developer seeks to obtain a rezoning of the 3.64-acre tract from R-1 single-family residential to a R-3 mixed-denisty residential in order to build an assisted-living facility.

Architect Johnny Waycaster of Waycaster & Associates, who is representing the developer, asked the board earlier this month to postpone a decision on the rezoning application until its meeting today.

Waycaster said he wanted time to get support and feedback from Glenwood residents on the project.

Glenwood subdivision appointed residents Chuck Caldwell, Scott Slover and Kent Hudson to represent the neighborhood in meetings with the architect.

Slover said Monday the group has met twice and have had productive conversations about the project.

“I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of what we can do and both sides are working together,” Slover said. “We’ve discussed what we could do to possibly keep the adverse impact on the neighborhood down and help with the traffic issues.”

Slover said the main concern is the increase in traffic that would likely come with the facility. He said residents are concerned about potential accidents because John R. Junkin Drive does not have a turn lane that goes directly to the proposed site.

Drivers would have to make a U-turn in front Glenwood to get to the facility, a move Slover said has caused accidents in the past.

Slover said it was his understanding from the meetings that Waycaster wanted to get an official agreement on paper before going before the aldermen.

“I think we’re expecting them to table the discussion (today) until we can get everything concluded in some sort of agreements,” Slover said. “I think everyone is going to want some sort of agreement together saying that the neighbors sign off, they approve and they’re good.”

Mayor Butch Brown said he was glad to see residents and developers communicating on the project and hoped they were near official agreements.

“We have got to stop putting developers off and get more user friendly instead of changing the ordinances as we go,” Brown said. “I think everything is worked out, and I hope the project goes forward.”

The facility has been tangled up in a zoning dispute with the City of Natchez since at least 2009.

Gayle Evans has owned the property since the 1970s and developed the Glenburney Nursing Home and the Adams County Nursing Center on the neighboring tracts.

When Evans bought the property, it was zoned as the equivalent to what is today known as a special use district.

When the city’s zoning maps were updated in 2007, a scrivener’s error marked the property as being zoned for single-family dwellings. The maps were approved by the aldermen at the time and became legally binding.