Preservation commission relinquishes authority over facility

Published 12:10am Thursday, August 15, 2013

Editor’s note: The following story as published in the Thursday, Aug. 15 edition of The Natchez Democrat incorrectly identified the name of the preservation commission member that voted against the motion to relinquish authority. Wayne Bryant offered the dissenting vote. The story is correct below. We regret the error and are glad to set the record straight.

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Preservation Commission agreed Wednesday to relinquish any authority over the construction of an assisted-living facility on John R. Junkin Drive.

The commission would normally have the right to review an application for the nursing center near the Glenwood subdivision because it would be within 300 feet of three historic landmarks, including Elms Court.

However, the commission voted 7-1 to relinquish its authority to review the application. The motion was made by commissioner Liz Dantone, who said she believed the nearby residents, the architect and the Natchez Planning Commission had put quite a lot of work into resolving concerns from those opposing the development.

“In this particular case, as a preservation commission, I don’t believe that I have the depth of understanding that has already been exercised,” Dantone said.

Commissioner Wayne Bryant voted against the motion.

Before the vote, Natchez City Planner Frankie Legaux briefed the commission on the events related to the nursing center leading up to Wednesday’s meeting.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen approved last month a request from architect Johnny Waycaster of Waycaster & Associates to rezone the 3.64-acre tract from R-1 single-family family residential to a special use district in order to allow the facility.

The rezoning request was originally made in 2009 and eventually denied by the city after Glenwood residents voiced significant opposition to the facility.

Waycaster presented a list to the board 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.

In other news from the meeting, the commission denied a request from the City of Natchez to replace overhead doors at the Natchez Community Center. The commission asked the city repair the doors instead to maintain the historic character of the building.