Zoning issues raised at aldermen meeting

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Residents raised concerns about potential changes in the city’s zoning code at a public hearing at Tuesday’s aldermen meeting.

Residents of the West Stiers Lane area said they were concerned that apartments and townhouses might be allowed in certain areas.

“We don’t have any room for townhouses,” Natchez resident Dorothy Sanders said. “The traffic is too heavy, and the streets are too narrow. We do not need townhouses in that area.”

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Planning consultant Corinne Fox said the new code would actually be more restrictive than the current one.

“Under the current code, apartments are allowed in an R3 (one residential) zone,” Fox said. “Under the new one, they won’t be.”

Resident Casey Hughes expressed concern about several issues, including what she said was a lack of clarity and definition of some of the wording in the new code.

Hughes also said she thought more zones should allow residences above businesses.

“That has been shown to be one of the things that make downtowns vital,” Hughes said.

The new zoning code would combine several city codes — including the sign, bed and breakfast and zoning ordinances — into one, Fox said.

The new zoning changes very little, Fox said.

A villa residential zone has been added, accommodating plantation houses and others, and a special use designation allows for institutions and larger developments.

Most people’s zoning won’t change at all, she said.

“Ninety percent of property zoning is not changing,” Fox said.

The proposed code and zoning map are available in the city planner’s office in city hall for review.

The next step for the code is to undergo review by the planning commission at the May 17 meeting. After that, the board of aldermen will address the code.

In other business, the board will implement a pilot program for evaluating department heads, Mayor Pro-tem Theodore “Bubber” West said. The process will consist of three steps: self-evaluation, evaluation by the department head’s respective committee chair and review by the mayor.

The board will hold a work session 4 p.m. Tuesday.