Smaller variance passes with no opposition

Published 6:30 pm Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A request for a 40 foot lot width met with no opposition even though a previous request by a city council member and planning commission chair weeks earlier for a 50 foot lot width met with major public scrutiny.

During Tuesday’s Picayune City Council meeting, a request by Dennis Collier to be granted a variance to reduce a residential lot’s width from 60 feet to 40 feet was approved by the council with no opposition from the public. However, in the previous two city council meetings and a Planning Commission meeting before that, a request from council member Leavern Guy and Planning Commission Chairman Melvin Hicks met with major opposition from the public.

Many of the citizens who expressed discontent with Guy and Hick’s request, to subdivide a lot into six 50 foot wide lots, said that their concerns were that the infrastructure near Rosa Street was not sufficient for the proposed lot widths. No one showed to Tuesday’s meeting to contest Collier’s request.

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“I’m gonna support this (request) because it’s the right thing to do,” Guy said. “We can not sit here and hold personal vendettas not to allow things to happen.”

The council approved Collier’s request for the 40 by 150 foot residential lot size on South Haugh Avenue.

Guy then set his focus on commercial development in the city and said that he would like to see the city re-evaluate all of the previously denied commercial development plans. In past city council administrations Guy said that aristocratic attitudes hindered development in the city.

“We can not have Chicken Little attitude when talking about economic development,” Guy said.

Council member Larry Watkins agreed but suggested that some of those denied plans failed to contain all the necessary information. In those cases, plans should be submitted with the accurate information to help the city make an informed decision.

A number of concerned citizens did have some complaints about other things that they believe need attention in the city. Beverly Creel brought up her long standing problem with a sink hole in her yard since the city installed a new sewer pump on her property. She first brought her complaint to the council in September after the city failed to uphold a promise to return her property to its previous state before the pump was installed, she said. Two months after the city’s last visit, she said her yard is still caved in where the pump was installed and she had to attempt to fill the hole herself. Council member Jerry Bounds and Public Works Director Chad Frierson said they surveyed Creel’s yard and did not observe the problem she has described. Frierson said he will make another visit to address her situation.

Another concerned citizen, Ashraf Tabatabaii, said she would like to see the city repave its streets. She said if she ever wants to take a comfortable ride, she usually looks to county roads rather than the city’s streets.

Robert Jefferson wants to have a fire hydrant near his home repaired. The long standing leak, which he brought up in previous meetings, has yet to be fixed.

“What’s it gonna take for me to get it (fixed), Swing Low Sweet Chariot?” Jefferson said.

City Manager Ed Pinero said the hydrants have been ordered and the city is waiting on them.

Council member Anna Turnage took a moment to thank all who have supported her in the passing of her mother.

In other business the council;

— Accepted grant checks from the Blueberry Jubilee Council for $500 and from Wal-Mart for $500 to support the Teen Court program.

— Appointed Picayune Fire Capt. Barry Lee as the principal city coordinator for overall National Incident Management System Implementation.

— Accepted a donation of $300 from the Southern Natural Gas to the Fire Department.

The next council meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 2, in the council’s chambers.