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Natchez Board of Aldermen approves rezoning; moves on street repairs

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Board of Aldermen approved rezoning for an assisted-living facility Tuesday along with a list of stipulations from neighboring residents to which the developer must adhere.

Architect Johnny Waycaster of Waycaster & Associates, who is representing the developer, appeared before the board seeking to obtain a rezoning of the 3.64-acre tract from R-1 single-family family residential to a special use district in order to allow the facility.

Waycaster presented a list of requests Glenwood subdivision residents want the developer to consider before and during construction including:

-Making the intersection at the entrance of the subdivision and U.S. 84 as safe as possible.

-Developing a walking trail for the facility and the neighborhood.

-Increasing the height of a screen wall behind the proposed building from 6 to 8 feet.

-Providing additional landscaping screening in the form of red tip photinias or other fast growing shrubbery on the side that faces the neighborhood.

-Maintaining the existing trees on the property.

-Using minimal site signage.

-Reducing light pollution at the back of the building.

-Moving the proposed facility approximately 10 to 12 feet closer to the Adams County Nursing Home.

-Publicly committing to budget between $4 to $5 million for the project.

-Keeping the appearance of the building substantially similar to plans the neighborhood has seen and agreed upon.

“The developer understands very serious concerns by neighborhood residents of vehicular access and safety and screening from adjacent residential areas,” Waycaster said. “Mr. (Gayle) Evans has agreed to each of the conditions made by the representative of the neighborhood.”

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

Hudson said the residents weren’t opposed to the development, but wanted to make sure the process was done with the residents in mind.

Apart from the aesthetic issues, Hudson said safety was the biggest concern among residents.

Eastbound drivers seeking to access the facility would have to make a U-turn in front of the Glenwood subdivision to enter the facility because John R. Junkin Drive lacks a turn lane allowing direct access to the site.

“Every one of us that lives in the subdivision has had close calls with the U-turn there,” Hudson said.

Mayor Butch Brown said he has an informal agreement with Mississippi Department of Transportation Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King to install a traffic control sensor at the exit of Glenwood that would control the overhead traffic signals at the intersection of U.S. 61 and John R. Junkin Drive.

The sensor would trigger the traffic signals at the intersection to turn red when Glenwood residents are attempting to exit the neighborhood, giving them more time to pull out of the neighborhood safely.

The rezoning request was ultimately approved by a unanimous vote under the condition that Brown will withhold certificate of occupancy if the developer does not meet the conditions.

The facility has been tangled up in a zoning dispute since at least 2009.

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 typo left the property as zoned for single-family dwellings. The maps were approved by the aldermen at the time and became legally binding.

In other news from the meeting David Gardner presented the board with an update on the city’s plan to fix streets in need of repair.

Gardner said he planned on using $500,000 — half of the city’s Magnolia Bluffs Casino lease payments — to formulate a plan for a mix of street work.

The street plan would repair some of the worst streets from the city’s street inventory while also micro-sealing streets that are in danger of becoming bad.

Gardner said approximately $300,000 would be used to overlay nine streets, which would require asphalting.

Approximately $200,000 would be used on 32 roads to do micro-sealing maintenance.

“We took the worst streets in the inventory and worked our way down until we got to the budget,” Gardner said.

The board instructed Gardner to move ahead with the project, which he said would begin as soon as the asphalt arrives from the vendor.