Housing developers request third zoning

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 7, 2001

In their ongoing search for an appropriate site, developers of an income-based apartment complex planned for Natchez have applied for rezoning on a third property.

Assistant City Planner Gretchen Kuechler said she received an application last week from Charter Consulting Ltd., one of several partners in the project, to rezone property on Old Washington Road near Holiday Apartments to multi-family residential.

The rezoning, coupled with site plan approval from the Natchez Metro Planning Commission, would allow construction of a 40-unit townhouse-style complex designed to promote home ownership by allowing renters to purchase a unit after 15 years.

Last month, the Natchez Board of Aldermen turned down a request to rezone 12 acres on West Stiers Lane, citing the narrow road could not accommodate the added traffic such a complex would create.

Since that time, the developers have applied for a second and third site, one on Old College Lane, formerly the Thompson School football field, and most recently, the Old Washington Road property.

Kuechler said the planning commission will review both applications at its next meeting, scheduled for April 19, and then make a recommendation to the board of aldermen.

Several aldermen said they are in favor of the project itself, and want to help the developers locate an appropriate site.

&uot;Anything the city can do to facilitate this project, that’s what we’ll do,&uot; said Sue Stedman, Ward 3 alderwoman and public properties chairman.

Stedman said the West Stiers Lane location was denied because the area lacked adequate infrastructure for a multi-family dwelling.

&uot;Your zoning ordinances are there for a reason,&uot; Stedman said. &uot;When you talk about high-density occupancy, it requires certain infrastructure,&uot; such as water and sewage lines, adequate streets and room for parking.

Ward 4 Alderman Theodore &uot;Bubber&uot; West agreed the project would be an asset to Natchez.

&uot;I think the project is worthwhile,&uot; he said. &uot;I think the problem that is going to exist all over town is where to put them.

&uot;Wherever they are put, they are going to be an asset to the community.&uot;

West said he has encouraged the &uot;city team&uot; to help seek out an appropriate location for the complex, &uot;so we don’t lose it.&uot;

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux said she wants to learn more about the project, including the concept of renting to own.

&uot;I know there’s a market out there for affordable housing,&uot; she said.

Plans for the project call for 1,280 square-foot townhouses, each with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths.

Prospective tenants would have to meet certain income requirements and undergo background and credit checks.

The same group of private developers has built similar complexes in McComb, Hattiesburg, Oxford and Tunica as part of a &uot;rent-to-own&uot; program through the Mississippi HOME Corporation. The Natchez project would be the fifth and last project.