Starkville officials to discuss alcohol ordinance

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A public hearing was scheduled here Tuesday night to discuss the city’s conditional use ordinance, which includes the distance separation setbacks for businesses serving alcohol.

Current Starkville law states 600 feet must separate a church or school from a restaurant or bar — unless the restaurant business was there first.

The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission is considering a change that could drop the distance to 100 feet.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Since churches and schools can locate in any land-use zone, Starkville City Planner Ben Griffith would like these projects reviewed against a set of criteria to ensure that each project is appropriate for the neighborhood they’re wishing to locate in.

Also, because restaurants and bars can only locate in commercial areas, Griffith saw the 600-foot minimum distance between these land uses and a church or school as too restrictive and originally sought to eliminate the distance separation requirement altogether.

Some commissioners are opposed.

The latest proposed draft of the ordinance closes the distance separation requirement to 100 feet, “or the current requirements of the Alcohol Beverage Control regulations of the Mississippi State Tax Commission.”

Another issue up for discussion was Green Oaks Plaza.

If a deal is not worked out by Dec. 2 between Lamar Advertising and the City of Starkville regarding a billboard sign on the property of Green Oaks Plaza, developer Dan Moreland will not be issued an occupancy certificate. The commissioners are being asked to allow a billboard currently on the property to remain as is, without any changes.

In a prior site plan — which the board approved — the sign was slated for removal. However, Daniel Dugan, a representative from Lamar, said later, leaving the billboard off the site plan was a mistake and asked that it be returned via an amended site plan.

In July the board voted 5-2 to allow the billboard to remain, even though most members believed it was in violation of Starkville’s sign ordinance, which states billboards can not be closer than 2,640 feet from each other.

Lamar has another billboard on Highway 12 roughly 500 feet away, but both billboards were erected prior to the ordinance.

The issue then went before the Starkville Board of Aldermen, which by a vote of 4-3 also allowed the billboard to remain. But the move was vetoed the next day by the mayor.

“My veto is predicated on the knowledge and belief that the appearance of the city is vital and I will continue to work diligently to uphold beautification efforts,” wrote Starkville Mayor Dan Camp in his comments.

Since then Lamar has challenged the veto in federal court, and in October a judge dismissed the case.

The Starkville Planning and Zoning Commission meets Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.