City Council approves apartment complex

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Picayune’s Police Department has rounded out its collection of accreditations with the presentation of state accreditation Tuesday night by Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, representing the Mississippi State Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission.

Late last year the department attained national accreditation.

Robert Morgan with the Department of Public Safety said he attempted to find something wrong with the department as he was evaluating it.

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“I have not been able to do that,” Morgan said.

Police Chief Jim Luke thanked the city, his officers and former police Chief Brenda Smith for all their help in the accreditation process. Then each member of the council, in turn, thanked the police department for making Picayune a safer place to live.

The council then presented the American Red Cross with a check for $3,001, which was collected in the boot drive conducted by the Picayune Fire Department early this month.

A short time later, the council took up the request to develop an apartment complex on South Haugh and immediately ran into some opposition. South Haugh Avenue residents who would be neighbors of the the Grand Oaks Apartment complex told council members that they are concerned about more traffic and possbily increased flooding if the complex is built. Developer Chris Hughes said he worked with the city engineers to ensure that all measures were taken to drain the area so as to cause little to no flooding.

Still, council member Leaverne Guy is worried that the area is being put at risk again when there already is a problem with flooding. Council member Anna Turnage is concerned about increased traffic that the 136 apartment complex would bring. The new owner of Picayune Funeral Home on South Haugh, Henrietta Brewer, also is concerned with the estimated 500 additional cars a day the complex would bring.

“I would be all for it if there was not a traffic and flooding issue,” Brewer said.

Hughes said the police department and the fire department have gone over those issues in a Site Review Committee meeting.

City attorney Nathan Farmer said Hughes and his company have signed an agreement stating if there are any adverse flooding in the area that the developer would be liable for the damage.

“That’s not something you usually take,” Farmer said about the developer taking responsibility.

Guy asked what would happen if the developer suddenly ceased to exist.

Brewer wanted to know why the company name on the agreement and the company name for the construction company are not the same. She said it seems odd that when the plan was first revealed for the complex it was listed as Grand Oaks Apartments LLC, and not Hughes Construction LLC, since Hughes will build the complex.

After much deliberation, the council accepted the request of the Planning Commission to acknowledge and submit the public’s comments and concerns taken at the public hearing on May 8, into the council’s minutes and accept the No Adverse Impact agreement as a condition for the building permit.

Another development concerning city residents is one to be built off of Williamsburg Road. The South Beech Land Owner’s Association showed up to express its discontent with a subdivision planned for the area. Lot sizes and home sizes now in the area are much larger than what is planned for the new development, said Bruce Campbell. He is concerned that the development will decrease the value of his home.

“If my house is going to be devalued, who’s going to be responsible for that,” Campbell said.

Generally, new developments mirror the look and feel of the existing development that surrounds a new one, Campbell said. Current homes are sitting on acre or more lots with 3,000-plus square feet. The planned development is slated to have homes of about 1,800 to 2,000 square-feet on quarter-acre lots.

“It’s like going into North Hills and putting in quarter-acre lots,” Campbell said.

Akarsh Kolprath, developer of Alison Landing Subdivision phase II, said the homes he has planned will not be duplexes, but rather nice-sized three bedroom homes.

The council decided to send the plans back to the planning commision for them to review the public’s concerns. That meeting will be July 10.

In other business the council:

— Approved a request for a home occupation license for Lee McWilliams Jr. at 219 Weems St.

— Approved a special-use exception to allow replacement of a mobile home , which was non-conforming and abandoned for more than five years at 901 Fifth Street.

— Approved preliminary and final subdivision plat for Dr. Patrick C. and Janis M. Eck for 1127 Miss. 43 N.

— Approved preliminary and final plat for Alan Hickman and Dennis Collier to subdivide three lots into three different lots at Whitfield Street and South Curran Avenue.

— Approved Collier’s request for preliminary and final plat to subdivide two lots into three different lots located at Whitfield Street and South Curran Avenue.

— Approved preliminary subdivision plat for Avery Subdivision phase II on Neal Road to contain 80 lots.

— Approved a request from Harry and Laura Herrin to rezone property on Miss. 43 N. from two-family residential to highway commercial.

— Held a public hearing for property cleanup for eight properties. Two were declared a public nusiance.

— Set a date for a public hearing concerning property cleanup for three properties. One was cleaned up while the remaining two will have a public hearing on July 3.

— Approved a request from Tammie Spires to have a blues festival from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Saturday Sept. 1, at Snyder Park based on clarification with the city manager and the school board on a fee schedule.

The next meeting of the city council is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 3, in the council chambers of city hall.