Commission OKs site for new center

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2000

NATCHEZ – After some discussion, Natchez Metro Planning Commission unanimously approved site plans for the downtown convention center Thursday night.

Deborah Martin, commission chairwoman, asked City Planner David Preziosi why the commission had not seen the site plans prior to the advertisement and acceptance of bids last week.

&uot;We’ve been following along with the whole process, and we didn’t see anything that would be a problem,&uot; Preziosi told Martin.

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Since the convention center is being built by the city, it presents a unique set of circumstances, he said. Also, site plans have more to do with building permits than permission to advertise for bids.

Natchez Board of Aldermen approved the final convention center design in June and work on drilled pier supports began in July.

Some commission members also questioned the lack of parking for the convention center. Planning ordinances require a set number of parking spaces depending on the size and type of building.

Preziosi said the convention center had been designed based on the objective of remote parking and bussing conventioneers to the center.

&uot;All we’re here for now is to approve the site plan,&uot; Martin told fellow commission members.

&uot;They’ve already advertised it, the bids have come in; it’s already in the process,&uot; she said.

The commission also voted to request that the board of aldermen place a moratorium on approvals for telecommunication towers until existing ordinances can be revised.

Public comment from Jack Stephens and Hal Hicks, whose businesses stand to be affected by a tabled tower request, asked the commission to come to a consensus on what direction the city wants to take on towers.

&uot;Do we want to have many towers of greater height or a few towers of lesser height,&uot; Hicks said.

&uot;The city should make an overall determination on what they think is preferable to the community,&uot; he said.

On the recommendation of planning staff, the commission also unanimously approved a request by former Natchez Mayor Larry L. &uot;Butch&uot; Brown to rezone property near South Canal Street from industrial to general business use.

Gretchen Kuechler, assistant city planner, said Brown had no definite plans for the property at this time.

Staff recommended the rezoning based on a &uot;change of conditions.&uot;

Several properties along South Canal Street have been rezoned to general business since the 1970s, including a parcel adjacent to Brown’s property owned by Joe Fortunato and Noland Biglane, which was rezoned last month.

Aldermen say Fortunato and Biglane plan to locate a hotel on the site. Brown’s property is located between the Isle of Capri hotel and the Fortunato-Biglane property.

Because zoning districts are part of the city map, Brown’s request must now go before the board of aldermen.