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Columbus City Council passes new street ordinance, hires planner

 

Kristin Mamrack

 

 

The Columbus City Council Tuesday adopted a "complete street" ordinance, awarded a bid on an infrastructure improvement project for a local hotel and restaurant development, and hired a city planner. 

 

Based on a suggestion from a constituent, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem motioned the council approve a "complete street" ordinance requiring, curbs, gutters, bike paths or sidewalks in new developments, as long as the cost to install the paths or sidewalks does not exceed 5 percent of the cost of the project. 

 

"This is to provide for better, healthy communities," he said. 

 

City Attorney Jeff Turnage said the paths or sidewalks would not be required in places where terrain or existing buildings make the additions impractical. 

 

"It''s a very simple ordinance," said City Engineer Kevin Stafford. The ordinance will be effective, after a second reading in 30 days. 

 

In other matters, the council: 

 

n Awarded a bid to the current contractor on a hotel and restaurant project by developer Mark Castleberry, to install a third traffic lane on Sixth Avenue, "in and out lanes" on 18th Avenue, a traffic signal on Sixth Avenue and a bridge to the development, as well as landscaping and lighting. 

 

The project will be funded by a $2.4 million federal grant; Castleberry is providing the local match. 

 

Construction work is ongoing on two hotels and restaurant space at the site, at the intersection of 18th Avenue North and Highway 82. 

 

A 90-room Fairfield Inn and Suites, which will feature an outdoor swimming pool, is scheduled to open in March. The site also will feature a 110-room Courtyard by Marriott, which likely will open in November 2011. The hotels will cost $23.5 million to construct, with an additional $6 million to $8 million spent on adjacent restaurants. 

 

n Hired Patricia Burgess-Southerland as a city planner, at a $50,000 annual salary. A resident of Houston, she began her career as a project manager with the Sequatchie Valley Development of the Mt. Airy Golf Community in Dunlap, Tenn. She later worked as a senior planner at the Planning and Design Studio with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency in Chattanooga, Tenn., from 2002 to 2004. 

 

After a two-year leave of absence, she worked as a project manager with the Federal Department of Commerce on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. 

 

In January 2007, she began restoring an antebellum property in Houston, which she recently sold, and served on the local planning and zoning board. 

 

Burgess-Southerland holds a master''s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. 

 

The council also promoted Travis Jones to federal programs director and former Zoning Officer Kenny Wiegel to building inspections director, replacing George Irby, who retired in June. 

 

The council also designated Derek Nash as the city''s code enforcement officer. 

 

n Was informed by Columbus Convention and Visitors'' Bureau Executive Director James Tsismanakis events will be held Oct. 13 through 16 to celebrate the legacy of Sam Hairston, a "baseball legend" born near the Crawford/Plum Grove area. 

 

Historic markers will be unveiled in Plum Grove and at the Queen City Hotel and a baseball field at Plum Grove will be dedicated. Additionally, a "Legends" concert will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 16, featuring performances by Percy Sledge, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Big Ben Atkins and the Class of 65. The concert will be held at the Columbus Riverwalk; shuttles will be available from parking areas. 

 

"This is a great educational event and great blues quality-of-life event," Tsismanakis said, noting the crowds drawn for the events will "fill hotel rooms and restaurants" in Columbus. 

 

n Agreed to block off part of College Street in front of Leadership Plaza, in downtown Columbus, Sept. 1 for a Mississippi State University pep rally. 

 

Harvey Myrick said the second annual event, partly sponsored by the Lowndes County Chapter of MSU alumni, will feature MSU cheerleaders, the MSU mascot, including the live English bulldog mascot, and the university''s new athletic director. 

 

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with a "meet and greet," Myrick noted, explaining food and beverages will not be sold, but proceeds from the sale of T-shirts will benefit MSU cheerleaders. 

 

n Was informed the state Legislature must allow the city to pass an ordinance banning reading or sending text messages while driving. 

 

Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens earlier asked the council to consider banning texting while driving in city limits. 

 

But, in 2002, the state Legislature passed legislation stipulating "no municipality shall pass an ordinance restricting the use of cell phones while driving."  

 

"I don''t think they were thinking of texting," Turnage said, noting the legislation also allows legislators to "authorize municipalities" to pass ordinances regarding cell phone use. 

 

The council will have to pass a resolution declaring its intent to ban the use of cell phones for text messaging while driving and then submit the resolution to legislators for authorization to pass the ordinance.

 

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment brian commented at 8/18/2010 4:10:00 PM:

Good news on several fronts, keep up the good work Mayor and council.

 

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