April 27, 2013 9:06:54 PM
The Starkville Board of Aldermen agreed Friday to rezone a parcel located in the Thad Cochran Research Park, allowing developers to begin work on a condominium project.
The corporate housing project, dubbed 300 Traditions, will offer 40 two-bedroom, two-bathroom units, 800 square feet in size.
Aldermen previously blocked the development in November after concerns emerged about the lack of provisions for such a development in the city's land-use charts. The board rezoned the 8.77-acre parcel, located at 300 Research Boulevard, from R-1 to B-1, a buffer zone, Friday. The B-1 zoning allows more development options, reducing the number of restrictions placed in front of Technology Mills LLC, the project's backer.
Developers cited two claims in their rezoning request, saying the character of the neighborhood had changed and pointing to an error that caused the board to originally block the development.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman confirmed Thursday that city staff had previously used an out-of-date land-use map when issues with the development first emerged. Kevin Watson, a representative for Technology Mills, told aldermen other nearby rezonings for residential development should constitute a change in the neighborhood's character.
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins quickly motioned for the rezoning's approval with two caveats: that the change only affect the 2 acres on which building would occur and that the condominium project be explicitly used for corporate housing.
Perkins said he was in favor of growth and development but the developers should provide housing only to residents with job ties to the research park and Mississippi State University.
"Multi-family (designation) ... is too broad, too inclusive," he said. "I don't mind supporting this and I don't mind supporting (Oktibbeha County Economic Development Agency), but at the same time we want to preserve the integrity of the research and technology park."
Watson said restricting who could live at the housing project would put the development's future in question. Wiseman took issue with Perkins' conditions, saying the city could not constitutionally delineate classes of residents seeking housing.
"It's an unenforceable function of the building department. It is there to oversee building projects, and I don't think it's realistic or feasible for them to police who tenants are after (a project is completed),"Wiseman said. "I don't think we have the capacity to go and drag someone out of an apartment because they are a student. It's not constitutional."
Perkins' original motion was amended when the board voted 6-1 to strike his tenant condition. He also dropped the zoning area caveat after developers said the entire parcel needed to be changed.
The board voted 6-1, with Perkins casting the lone "Nay," to rezone the property.
It is not known when the project will begin, but Wiseman said Thursday that construction could take between 18 months and two years.
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