December 16, 2017 10:04:13 PM
On Tuesday Starkville's aldermen will decide whether to grant a variance from city code for a proposed roadway in a nearly 400-acre industrial park near Highways 82 and 389.
Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins and Saunders Ramsey, with engineering firm Neel-Schaffer, went before aldermen during the board's Friday afternoon work session to explain the options available and the prices that come with them.
The LINK is seeking a variance from the 27-foot road with curb and gutters city code requires. Higgins said the LINK is looking to have a 24-foot road with prepared shoulders in the industrial park, which is the same type of road used to service other industrial parks in the Golden Triangle.
The city's board of adjustments and appeals allowed the width exception, but denied the curb and gutter variance request, and the LINK has appealed the request to aldermen.
On Friday, Higgins said the matter is one of both cost and practicality.
The LINK is open to adjusting the road to meet aldermen's wishes, he said. However, that will bear a price. To add curb and gutters to the 24-foot road would add $149,500 to the price, compared to the 24-foot road with prepared shoulders. A 27-foot road with shoulders would add $145,395. A 27-foot road with curbs and gutters would add $273,895. A parkway, which could allow for plants in a center median, with shoulders would add $148,550.
"We also like the idea of having that eight-foot prepared shoulder because if a truck has a flat, emergency or something, you can pull over and get off the road," Higgins said. "In a perfect world we'd have enough money to do four (lanes) but we don't, so we're doing two and it gives them a way to pull off."
Ramsey added the shoulders could allow trucks to pull to the side of the road to stage for deliveries if needed, depending on the businesses that locate in the park.
Ramsey also noted the Mississippi Department of Transportation requires curb and gutters where the road will intersect with Highway 389, and the road will have curbs and gutters going about 500 feet into the industrial park.
"When you look at the park from Highway 389, you're going to see a curb and gutter intersection and 500 feet or so of curb and gutter," he said. "As you enter the park as it becomes more of a functional industrial area, then we do recommend going to an open shoulder."
Ward 6 Alderman Roy A. Perkins railed against the request, saying he felt it should have been addressed before the city and county approved a combined $14 million in bonds for the new park. The city of Starkville paid half the cost, while Oktibbeha County paid the other half.
"I was under the impression that once the board voted to pay the $7 million, we don't need to be having this discussion about what size the street should be," Perkins said. "It seems to me that when you brought the budget to us, you should have factored the budget to include compliance with streets of city specifications."
Higgins noted there were discussions, early on in the process of planning the park, where the LINK met with city and county officials and asked if the road could be a county road, in order to save costs. He said officials agreed on that.
As discussions progressed, he said, it came to light that the city would be responsible for the road, since the park is within city limits.
"So the decision was made that they would be (built as if they were) county roads and we would go back and ask for a variance on those," he said. "This was not something we didn't read the book or think about."
No other aldermen voiced serious disapproval of Higgins' request. Ward 4 Alderman Jason Walker said the city's comprehensive plan allows for flexibility in places like industrial parks.
"I think our two best options, in my mind, are either ...the 24-foot pavement with the shoulder, or the parkway with the shoulder," Walker said. "They both basically give you the same thing in terms of two travel lanes, one in each direction. They both give you the shoulder and I would argue from an aesthetic standpoint, curb and gutter doesn't get you anything in the meat of the park."
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