Housing reps no show at hearing

Published 12:01 am Friday, January 25, 2008

NATCHEZ — For the second time, representatives from Audubon Terrace canceled an arranged meeting with the Natchez Board of Aldermen on the day of the meeting.

Aldermen Ricky Gray said the abrupt cancellation was disrespectful to the board and the citizens who came to the meeting specifically to meet with the Terrace representatives.

Audubon Terrace is proposing a mid to low-income housing complex in the Bluebird neighborhood area.

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Thursday’s aldermen meeting was scheduled to be a public hearing to discuss proposed rezoning of the area that would allow building to begin.

Gray said the land is not currently zoned for Audubon’s needs.

Mayor Phillip West said in a letter from Audubon Terrace, the group asked that the hearing be indefinitely continued.

While the aldermen did vote to table the matter, Gray proposed a second motion that essentially forces Terrace representatives to be present at the boards second meeting in February.

That motion passed.

“We have to be able to talk with them,” he said.

No representatives from Audubon Terrace were at Thursday’s meeting.

Gray said the main issue to be discussed is land contamination on the group’s proposed building site.

Gray said a recent soil sample from the land shows contaminants are present.

“You can’t build out there if it’s going to make people sick,” he said.

Gray said the contaminants are nothing new; they are leftover from an Armstrong plant that has since closed.

Also in the interest of public safety, Natchez resident Jim Sanders addressed the board about safety concerns at the Carpenter Apartments.

In early October one of the units caught fire prompting Sanders and the board to take a closer look at just how safe the complex is.

At one of their last meetings in October, the board asked City Building Inspector Paul Dawes to inspect the building.

On Thursday, Sanders said problems highlighted in Dawes’ report have still not been fixed.

While the city technically has no authority over the privately owned complex West said the city still has in interest because the city’s residents are living in the unit.

West said he will meet with Dawes and the city’s attorney on the matter and prepare a report within 30 days.

In other news the aldermen accepted a $2.8 million bid from an Alabama based company to complete a sewer project at the new CCA prison site.

City engineer David Gardner said the project will join a sewer line approximately 10 miles in length from the prison to the waste water treatment facility.

Gardner said the bid the board accepted was $257,000 less expensive than the next closest bid.

A Community Development Block Grant will fund the project.