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Trinity property rezoned to B-2 general business district

 

NATCHEZ — The former Trinity Episcopal Day School property is officially open for business, though one nearby resident voiced some opposition Tuesday.

The property was zoned as a B-2 general business district Tuesday after Natchez leaders approved a rezoning request in order to make the land easier for Trinity Episcopal Church to sell.

Though the vote ultimately passed without much debate from officials, one resident did make known her concerns during a public hearing that preceded the decision.

Becky Morris, a resident of the adjacent Woodhaven subdivision who had voiced concerns prior to Tuesday’s meeting, said she and her husband still objected to the rezoning, asking the aldermen to delay their vote. Morris said she wanted the B-2 designation to be reduced further to a B-1 Neighborhood Business District — a less intensive zone that provides “office, retail and personal services for … people in adjacent residential neighborhoods,” according to city code.

The church compromised with residents by reducing its initial request for a highly intensive B-4 Highway Business District down to a B-2 after hearing concerns come out of the subdivision. Additionally, the church’s vestry agreed to also restrict the following businesses that would normally be allowed under a B-2 designation:

  • Truck stop
  • Bar/night club
  • Auto repair shop
  • Hotel/motel
  • Apartment complex, and
  • Stand-alone restaurant

The church also agreed to require a 20-foot landscape buffer to separate whatever future development ends up there from the neighborhood.

Even so, Morris said the church did not consider objections from some Woodhaven residents nor the possibility of lowering its request down to a B-1.

“My husband and I have at least six more objectionable businesses in (this case),” Morris said.

Morris closed by asking the board to limit the rezoning to a B-1 or to have the church add even more business restrictions under its B-2 designation.

In response, the Rev. Ken Ritter with Trinity Episcopal Church said he and the vestry have worked hard to compromise with residents so as not to cause any hardship on those within the Woodhaven subdivision.

“My feeling is that most people spoke in favor of it as long as we could work it out in terms of what could be (allowed) on that property,” Ritter said.

He added that leaving the property vacant — which could happen if it remains an R-1 residential zone as it has been for years — would be detrimental to the community.

After Ritter’s comments, Morris rose and asked to speak again, but Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell told her she could not.

City Planner Riccardo Giani recommended that the board approve rezoning the property to a B-2, and Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Smith agreed. The property lies within Smith’s ward.

“I feel comfortable that a great compromise was made in this,” Smith said. “I’m sorry that it doesn’t please everyone, but we have to move on with this.”

The board then approved the motion 4-0 — Ward 5 Alderman Benjamin Davis was not present at the meeting and Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis abstained. Just before the vote, Arceneaux-Mathis had said she needed in writing which businesses would not be allowed on the property, which she said had not been provided to her.

Now that the property is officially zoned as a business district, the church can proceed with trying to locate a buyer, though, who that buyer will be remains to be seen.

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