Public to get view of revamping city codes

Published 12:02 am Saturday, March 8, 2014

NATCHEZ — Natchez residents could get a look at the proposed changes to the city’s development code as early as next month.

The process to update the code began more than a year ago, and City Planner Frankie Legaux said the project’s steering committee, made of up local professionals in various fields, recently finished reviewing a draft of the proposed updated code.

Former city planner Phil Walker, owner of the Walker Collaborative in Nashville, was hired in September 2012 to update the code. Walker and the city hosted public meetings for community input in late 2012 and early 2013.

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The code outlines land uses by zoned districts, development sizes, street guidelines, landscaping, utilities, parking and signage.

Walker submitted a draft to the city approximately six months ago and said proposed changes to the code include adding more mixed-use zones to allow for various developments in a zone.

“There are a lot of single-use (zones) in Natchez,” Walker said. “That’s not a real good thing, because you have to live in one zone, work in another and shop in another. What you end up doing is a heck of a lot of driving.”

Mixed-use zones, Walker said, encourage neighborhood business development so small restaurants or other small businesses could be developed in neighborhood areas.

Other proposed changes, Legaux said, include eliminating redundant or confusing language to make the code easier to read for residents and developers.

Although updating the code has taken more than a year, Legaux said she worked on similar updates in North Carolina that took two years.

“This is actually a fairly quick turnaround for something like this,” she said.

Legaux said she is working to make changes to the document suggested by the steering committee. The draft will then be sent back to Walker for final review.

Walker will travel to Natchez to lead a public information session, where he will present changes to the code and answer questions.

The code will next go to the Natchez Planning Commission for approval and then the Natchez Board of Aldermen for final approval. Required public hearings will be conducted before the two boards vote.