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Planning firm to help solidify vision for Starkville


Jason Browne



A new vision for downtown Starkville is coming Tuesday night. 


On the heels of March''s charrette, Starkville has brought in a team from the PlaceMakers planning firm to explore the possibility of implementing form-based codes which will guide downtown''s development. Two PlaceMakers representatives spent last week meeting with various groups, including Starkville''s Planning and Zoning Commission and Historical Preservation Commission. 


Much like the charrette crew from the Mississippi Main Street Association, the PlaceMakers will take into account all of the input garnered from the various meetings before making a presentation to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall. 


Nathan Norris, director of implementation advisory for Placemakers, speaking to the planning and zoning commission Friday, said he and his associate Howard Blackson had two goals to accomplish through their recommendation of form-based codes: "Improve the connection between Starkville and Mississippi State University and improve the character of Starkville''s thoroughfares." 


He singled out four streets, all connected to downtown, for improvement: Main Street/University Street, Highway 182, Russell Street and Lampkin Street. 


"The key to regulating the character is the form," Norris told the P&Z members. 


Form-based codes can be used to provide guidelines for the type, use and look of buildings or developments in given areas. A litany of possibilities and challenges were volleyed back and forth Friday regarding what the codes should seek to accomplish and which populations would support or oppose each. 


Norris and Blackson offered no conclusions Friday, opting to guard their suggestions until Tuesday''s presentation, which will include visual renderings of their vision for downtown. 


PlaceMakers will have four weeks from Tuesday''s meeting to deliver the first draft of their proposed form-based codes. City officials will have two weeks to offer comments and the PlaceMakers'' final draft will be due two weeks later. Norris said the final draft will be worded to function as policy which the aldermen could vote into action at any point following its receipt.




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