Planning commission approves assisted living facility

Published 12:09 am Friday, August 16, 2013

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Planning Commission unanimously approved a site plan Thursday for a proposed assisted living facility on John R. Junkin Drive.

The three-story, 60-unit facility will be near the Glenwood subdivision.

Developer Gayle Evans requested rezoning approval for the property to allow the facility in 2009. The request subsequently denied by the city after Glenwood residents voiced significant concern.

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The project’s architect Johnny Waycaster made the request again in June.

Residents again voiced concerns, mainly traffic and visibility concerns, and Waycaster has since been working with a neighborhood committee to address the concerns of the neighborhood.

The Natchez Planning Commission and Board of Aldermen recently approved rezoning to allow the facility, setting in motion further plans for the site.

Commissioners quizzed Waycaster at Thursday’s meeting about drainage, lighting and landscaping, but ultimately did not find a reason to deny the application.

Commission Karen Stubbs asked Waycaster whether any other shrubbery besides red-tip photinias had been considered for landscaping. She noted that the plant was prone to disease.

Waycaster said he was working with Upton’s Nursery staff to obtain a recommendation for an alternative plant if photinias are not the right fit.

The commission conditioned their approval on provisions that included nighttime lighting facing downward and the neighborhood walking trail be completed before a certificate of occupancy is issued.

A list of other provisions agreed upon by the developer and Glenwood residents includes:

-Making the intersection at the entrance of the subdivision and U.S. 84 as safe as possible.

-Developing a walking trail for the facility and the neighborhood.

-Increasing the height of a screen wall behind the proposed building from 6 to 8 feet.

-Providing additional landscaping screening in the form of red tip photinias or other fast-growing shrubbery on the side that faces the neighborhood.

-Maintaining the existing trees on the property.

-Using minimal site signage.

-Reducing light pollution at the back of the building.

-Moving the proposed facility approximately 10 to 12 feet closer to the Adams County Nursing Home.

-Publicly committing to budget between $4 to $5 million for the project.

-Keeping the appearance of the building substantially similar to plans the neighborhood has seen and agreed upon.

In other news from the meeting:

-After voicing concerns about a lack of information about the development, the commission ultimately tabled two applications from Chartre Consulting to rezone two pieces of property for the company’s scattered-site housing development.

The company has been working with the city to develop scattered-site housing in the Martin Luther King Jr. and St. Catherine streets area.

Commissioner Karen Stubbs expressed concern about the development, relating it to another Chartre development that was approved by the city. Officials have said they believe Stonehurst Arms, renamed Old Bridge Place, “snuck through” city approval.

Stubbs implied frustration with the way Chartre’s last development was handled, specifically that she did not believe the company hired local architects or contractors and bought its materials out of town.

“They spent zero money in Adams County for their development,” she said.

Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith appeared before the commission in an attempt to provide more information, since a Chartre representative was not at the meeting.

The housing would be single-family units that would be available for purchase to renters after 15 years, Smith said. Chartre would have a great deal of control for those 15 years and have strict policies for tenants relating to property upkeep and other issues, Smith said.

Stubbs, however, expressed skepticism that renters would buy the houses after 15 years.

“I just think we’re putting a down-the-road, 15-year burden on our town,” she said.

Smith said she believed someone from Chartre should have been at the meeting.

“They need to get more information out of the public, apparently,” she said.

The commission tabled the applications until a Chartre representative could be at a public meeting to give more information.

-The commission tabled a request from Justin Adcock of Alliance South for the development of a retirement community at the end of Hunter’s Lane. Adcock was not at the meeting, and the commission requested he be at the next meeting to answer questions.

-The commission approved a special exception request from local businessman Doug Charboneau to allow a micro-distillery in the former King’s Tavern building, which sits in the B-2 business district.

The commission’s next meeting is at 5:15 p.m. Sept. 19.