Aldermen to address new code

Published 12:01 am Saturday, December 1, 2007

NATCHEZ — Natchez still lacks updated development guidelines, but the new development code should be addressed soon, Mayor Phillip West said Thursday.

The proposed planning and development code was first presented to the planning commission in June 2006. Since then, it has gone through multiple revisions.

Members of the Natchez Planning Commission shared their recommendations with aldermen in a planning session before Tuesday’s meeting.

Email newsletter signup

The commission asked the board to adopt changes they made to the proposed code.

The revised version prohibits billboards along entrances to the city, replaces the current 75-foot riverfront building height restriction and forbids scrolling electronic signs.

Nothing was decided, but the board will discuss the issues at Tuesday’s 4 p.m. work session, West said.

“Perhaps the majority of the board members will agree with what they (commission members) say, perhaps they will not all agree,” West said. “Until we reach that point, we can’t adopt the code. We need to have an understanding of what’s being adopted.”

Some board members have expressed interest in installing a scrolling electronic sign at the convention center to inform passers-by about ongoing events. The commission has suggested that if the code limits scrolling signs to only city property, the city would have a lawsuit on its hands.

The commission also recommended the code do away with the 75-foot building height restriction along the riverfront district. Instead, they suggested returning to the former ordinance, which restricted new constructions to be no taller than surrounding buildings.

The current city code was adopted in the 1960s, City Planner Dennis Story said. Although the proposed code mirrors much of the current one, things have changed over the decades.

“The telecommunications we have now, in 1963, weren’t even thought of,” Story said. “Parking lengths and widths were not as they are today. We’ve got longer and wider vehicles now. Those types of things.”

Former city attorney Walter Brown said at Tuesday’s planning session that time was of the essence in adopting the proposed new code.

Once passed, the ordinance would not go into affect until another 30 days.

West said it would be up to the board as to when they chose to address it, but he hoped it would be finalized by the Dec. 11 meeting or, at the latest, Dec. 18.

“So much activity is taking place in our community now, it makes it imperative we have some consistent development code adopted so we’re not in a situation where people are utilizing certain regulations and those regulations might change in a month or two,” West said.

On the other hand, West said, the current code is still in place.

“It’s not like we can’t do anything at this particular point,” he said. “But it certainly would be more effective to have an updated code adopted as soon as possible.”