May 19, 2018 10:03:21 PM
Starkville drivers may soon be in for a change to their city's residential parking ordinance.
Ward 5 Alderman Patrick Miller called for the city of Starkville to look at adjusting its residential parking ordinance at the Board of Aldermen's May 1 meeting.
The new ordinance changes residential parking requirements to be set by number of dwelling units, rather than square feet, as the current ordinance sets them.
Under the current ordinance, residential units with up to 449 square feet are required to have 1.5 parking spaces; 450-749 square feet have to have two parking spaces; 750-999 square feet have to have 2.5 parking spaces; and 1,000-plus square feet must have three parking spaces.
The proposed ordinance changes so that lots with one or two dwelling units have to calculate parking at one parking space per bedroom. Lots with three or more dwelling units have to calculate parking at 1.25 spaces per bedroom.
Community Development Director Buddy Sanders said the changes should suit Starkville, as a college town, better than the previous ordinance.
"We go by square feet in the current ordinance, which is not all that uncommon -- in fact it's fairly common," he said. "However, that does not work well in university cities. University cities are always different, and you should never take a zoning ordinance in a traditional city, a suburban city, and try to force it in a university city, because it's just not going to fit."
The new ordinance also includes restrictions against parking on front yards, which Miller said has been an issue. The ordinance says parking "shall only be permitted on a hard surface" and "shall not be permitted on open lawn area from the front facade of the building to the street." It defines a hard surface as concrete, asphalt, gravel or pavers.
The ordinance also includes restrictions for residential vehicles, a definition which includes boats, all-terrain vehicles, temporary storage containers, travel trailers and motor homes.
Miller said he wanted to bring a residential parking ordinance provision up for consideration after hearing concerns about the issue from his constituents. He said he hopes it addresses the issue of out-of-town property owners who don't have sufficient parking for their rental properties.
"The end goal is to address what I call vacant property owners," Miller said. "Those are people who live outside of the city of Starkville who rent, and you're seeing an influx of those into my ward, and I know in other wards as well.
"It cuts down on things like having a three-bedroom house, but you've got six vehicles parked outside -- three in the driveway and three in the yard," Miller added.
The ordinance allows exceptions from the front yard parking rule -- such as for Mississippi State University home game weekends, or for private events. According to the ordinance as currently proposed, private event exceptions can be issued for up to three events per year. The ordinance automatically waives yard parking restrictions from noon Friday to noon Sunday on MSU game weekends.
"We understand this is a college town, and people come here for events such as football games and baseball games," Sanders said.
Aldermen will hold the first of two public hearings on the potential ordinance change at their June 5 board meeting.
Miller said he's eager to hear what his fellow aldermen and members of the public have to say about the proposed ordinance changes.
"The biggest thing is to treat the symptoms of excess parking in residential areas and trying to maintain and increase citizens' property value for those who do live in Starkville," he said.
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