Aldermen mull need for buffer zone near bluffs

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 16, 2000

Natchez aldermen say a 100-foot buffer zone for construction along the bluffs is probably necessary, but they want to take a first-hand look before signing off on a city policy.

The metropolitan planning firm Christopher Chadbourne and Associates originally recommended the city prohibit new construction within 100 feet of the edge of the bluff in its 1991 study, City Engineer David Gardner said.

Recently, Gardner asked the opinion of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a geotechnical engineering firm on the length of the buffer zone. Without telling them what the Chadbourne amount was, both agreed with the 100-foot recommendation, Gardner said.

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Last week, Gardner asked the aldermen to create a policy prohibiting new construction within the buffer zone, but several aldermen, including David Massey, Ward 5, were hesitant.

&uot;If it is necessary, I want to make sure it needs to be 100 feet,&uot; Massey said Monday. &uot;It may need to be less or more,&uot;

If a business wanting to locate along the bluff is told they cannot build within 100 feet of the bluff’s edge, they may reconsider, Massey said.

&uot;I don’t want to discourage businesses from coming there because right now, that’s kind of our industrial park,&uot; he said.

Ward 3 Alderwoman and public properties chairperson Sue Stedman agreed that the bluff frontage is a &uot;valuable piece of property,&uot; but said she does not think a buffer zone will interfere with plans to draw a convention hotel to city property located on the old pecan factory site.

&uot;It sounds like a reasonable request to me,&uot; Stedman said of Gardner’s recommendation.

Both Massey and Stedman said they plan to visit the proposed buffer zone this week. Stedman had asked Gardner to mark off the 100-foot boundary at last week’s meeting.

Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West also plans take a first-hand look at the markers, and said the aldermen will likely adopt the policy at their next meeting.

&uot;If the engineering department and the Corps of Engineers recommend it, who are we to second-guess that?&uot; West said.

Gardner said the policy would prohibit only &uot;heavy buildings&uot; and would exclude parking lots with the condition that a geotechnical study be conducted.