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City Board, February 6: new zoning class request, sign ordinance discussed

City Board February 6 2018 Looking west/northwest from I-22: Land involved in City Board February 6 discussion about a new zoning classification.

City Board of Aldermen February 6:  A real estate agent asked the New Albany city board to consider changing 40 acres, now zoned residential, to a new commercial zoning class.

Tom Smith sign on the property

Tom Wiseman, representing Tom Smith Land and Homes of Ridgeland, MS, asked the aldermen at their Feb. 6th meeting to create a new zoning classification to be called a “planned commercial district.” Wiseman wants the proposed new commercial zoning to be applied to a 39.51-acre tract of land that lies generally east of the intersection of Interstate-22 and Highway 15. It is bounded on the north by Poplar Avenue, on the east by Murrah Road, on the south by I-22, and on the west by the BancorpSouth bank property,

According to public sources the land belongs to Ray Tune of New Albany. The land is listed by the Tom Smith agency with a an asking price a little under two million dollars ($1,975,500).

Wiseman told the Board of Aldermen that the Tom Smith agency has had the listing on the property for several years but that they had been unable to sell it. Wiseman said the land was being used now “for cutting hay,” and that it would produce more tax revenue if developed as commercial real estate. The land is now listed on public records with a total market value of $8,840.

When asked, Wiseman said a “planned commercial district” would consist of ‘non-objectionable’ businesses. He said it would not include “businesses open all night” or “convenience stores” and might include retail shops, professional offices and service businesses. He said some planned commercial districts had been established in DeSoto County.

About 20 single family homes abut Poplar Drive as it runs from Highway 15 east to Murrah Road.

City Board February 6 land in question

View looking south from Poplar Avenue toward I-22.

Ward Four Alderman Will Tucker commented that Poplar Avenue, which provides the only public street access to the Tune property, is not designed to carry heavy commercial traffic. The paved roadway is about 20 feet wide as it passes the BancorpSouth property but narrows to 16-17 feet near Murrah Road. Poplar Avenue intersects Highway 15 about 180 feet north of the westbound I-22 exit ramp to Highway 15.

No motions were put forth in response to Wiseman’s request, but Code Enforcement Officer Eric Thomas was asked to study the idea of planned commercial districts and report back to the board.

In another zoning matter, Thomas told the aldermen that the city zoning board had denied the zoning change requested by Cook’s Family Daycare at 611 Moss Hill Drive. Cook’s had asked that it’s zoning be changed from residential (R-2) to commercial (C-1). A number of residents of the Moss Hill neighborhood had objected to the zoning change.

First Ward Alderwoman Amy Livingston said she had hoped the city’s new “sign ordinance” would be ready for presentation at the Tuesday evening meeting, but had been told by the city attorney that the draft ordinance would require further corrections and changes before it could be presented. City Attorney Regan Russell told the aldermen that a public hearing would also have to be advertised and conducted.  He said the new sign ordinance would have to be approved by the zoning board before it could be formally proposed to the Board of Aldermen.

Although issues related to zoning took up much of the board’s meeting time, other business included:

  • New Albany Lights, Gas, and Water General Manager told the board that three gas line regulators had failed during the recent extended cold weather and would have to be replaced at a total cost of $142,000.
  • Police Chief Chris Robertson received approval to purchase a new Chevrolet Tahoe for $34,936.19, the State of Mississippi’s contract price. Robertson said the Tahoe would replace one that had accumulated 175,000 miles.

Other business included paying the bills and approving the minutes of past board meetings.

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