Planning commission rejects public hearing on Highland Commons

Published 5:07 pm Thursday, April 12, 2007

The City of Picayune may see the addition of some apartment buildings while other apartment building approvals were denied.

Another public hearing for Highland Commons, to be built off of U.S. 11, if the city council upholds the recommendation of the City of Picayune Planning Commission.

On Feb. 13 of this year, a public hearing was held concerning the rezoning of Highland Commons, where residents could express their concerns. For that reason, the developers made a request that another public hearing not be held for the preliminary development subdivision plat.

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Only one resident, Fred White, showed up to object to the request not to hold another public hearing and present his case. White said he lives in an adjacent subdivision where the proposed Highland Commons would be built. White said he does not object to the development but is opposed to not having another public hearing. The public hearing that was held in February concerned the zoning change, not the preliminary development subdivision plat. There may be things that the public could address concerning the development, but if the commission approves the request the public will not have that chance, he said.

“So we don’t know what they’re asking us not to have a public hearing about,” White said.

Tammy Campbell, Code Zoning Building Administrator and Flood Plain Manager, said that the concerns White brought up at the meeting will be addressed by the Site Plan Review Committee, which consists of the Fire Department, Police Department, Public Works, Code Enforcement and the streets and utilities departments. That committee will look for issues that involve drainage, fire protection and other conflicts that may arise. The public is not able to attend those meetings, she said.

“I’m not trying to be pretentious but I do feel strongly … that there needs to be more community participation because this project is so important to the community,” White said.

With that, the commission approved the request to not hold another public hearing concerning the development.

A public hearing was approved for a new apartment complex slated to be built next to Arbor Gate Apartments. The new complex would be called Grande Oak Apartments and would have 136 units in it, Campbell said.

Chris Hughes, developer of the apartment building, said his group has been working on beginning construction of the building for a bout 15 months and already has held two public hearings. While those hearing were publicized in the paper, they did not go through the Planning Commission and were held on Saturdays. Hughes said only the second public hearing was attended by members of the public, which were people from Picayune Funeral Home on South Haugh. They expressed concerns about traffic and noise. Hughes said developers would be willing to address those concerns.

“We’re basically encased in an area we feel like we’re not going to negatively impact,” Hughes said.

The main problem appeared to be the drainage issues the area has experienced since the building of Arbor Gates. There have been five repetitive flood loss properties on Woodglen Cove due to the construction of the apartment complex, Campbell said.

Hughes said developers have a plan to address those drainage concerns and not add to the current drainage problem.

Since there seemed to be a problem with the Site Plan Review Committee and the commission did not know of the public hearings, the commission approved a motion to have a public hearing 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, at the next commission meeting to be held at city hall.

The request to rezone an area from R-1 to R-3 to support another apartment building project was denied. The request came from Bernard Stubbs of Stubbs Inc., to rezone the area from single family residential to multifamily residential so he could build the apartment building.

One family appeared at the meeting to express their opposition to the rezoning. They said the reason they did not like the idea of the apartment building was because they wanted to keep the area safe.

Board member Steve Gordon made the motion to deny the rezoning request since there were not written statements from the surrounding families and based on the opposition made at the meeting.

In other business the commission;

— Approved Horace Ray Mitchell Jr. request for a Home Occupational license to allow an office inside his home to maintain records for Residential Electrical Service.

— Approved Melissa Cook’s request for a home Occupational license to allow an office inside her home to maintain records for her business.

— Tabled Dawn Dickinson’s request for conditional use of her home to operate a mini Dachshund kennel until the commission can get an attorney’s opinion.

— Approved ratifying the resolution with a signature of the subdivision of eight parcels for the new homes to be built by Habitat for Humanity.