Building on bluff local role

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2005

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Engineering oversight at the site of proposed condominiums on the bluff is under local jurisdiction, said David Gardner, Natchez city engineer and superintendent of water works.

&uot;The Corps of Engineers doesn’t have jurisdiction there,&uot; Gardner said Tuesday. &uot;We signed an operational and maintenance agreement with them that tells us what, according to their guidelines, we can and can’t do; and we have to give their money back if we don’t follow them.&uot;

How much would that be? &uot;Thirty million,&uot; Gardner said, referring to money spent to stabilize the bluffs at Natchez.

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At Gardner’s suggestion, developers Edward Worley and Larry Brown, who have an option to purchase the property in question, hired geo-technical engineers to study the site associated with the old Natchez Pecan Shelling Co. The site is suitable for the proposed building, Gardner said.

&uot;We know that area will support a large building,&uot; he said. &uot;But they (developers) are in a quandary. They don’t know what to tell me because they don’t know how high the building will be.&uot;

Controversy over the building’s design at two meetings of the Natchez Preservation Commission included questions about the height of the two six-story buildings shown in the architect’s rendering.

Brown has said he and his partner will work with the commission as well as the Historic Natchez Foundation to find common ground in the condominium design.

Once Gardner knows the building’s height, he can tell the developers what the setback from the bluff edge should be, Gardner said. The property is approximately 200 feet by 330 feet.

&uot;It’s a good site. We’re very blessed that we have soil that has good bearing,&uot; he said.

Regulations call for adherence to a 100-foot buffer along the bluffs at Natchez, where no earth is to be moved, Gardner said. &uot;That came from me. I really wanted it for the unstabilized portion of the bluff up by the cemetery, but the buffer takes in all the bluff.&uot;

Gardner now awaits the final architectural proposal, including the footprint of the building and where it will go on the site.

The sidewalk that goes near the edge of the bluff will remain public should the privately owned condominiums be built on the site.

&uot;We reserved the sidewalk, just the width of the sidewalk, as public, but the developers reserved the right to gate it at night for security reasons,&uot; he said.