Article Comment 

Aldermen to consider exemptions for sidewalk ordinance


Tim Pratt



The Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday will consider calling for another public hearing to amend the city''s sidewalk ordinance, only this time the board intends to exempt specific streets from the controversial walkway construction requirements. 


Aldermen will consider holding a public hearing Dec. 21 to hear public feedback on exempting Industrial Park Road, Pollard Road, Miley Road and Airport Road from the city''s sidewalk ordinance. The ordinance as it stands requires sidewalks to be constructed when a new building is erected or when significant improvements are made to an existing structure. 


The area being considered for exemption is on the west side of the city, just south of Highway 12, near the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, Gulf States Manufacturers, George M. Bryan Field and the Coca Cola bottling plant, among other businesses. Industrial Park Road would be exempt from Pollard Road to Miley Road; Miley Road would be exempt from Industrial Park Road to Airport Road; Airport Road would be exempt from Miley Road to Pollard Road; and Pollard Road would be exempt from Airport Road to Industrial Park Road. 


Aldermen expect to hold a second public hearing after the start of the new year before voting on the proposed exemption areas. 


While the board will consider new exemptions, the city''s transportation committee also is working on possible exemptions. The committee, however, only wants the city to provide exemptions if geography does not allow the construction of a sidewalk or if sidewalk construction would cause an undue financial hardship. It is unclear what impact the city''s newly proposed exemption areas will have on the transportation committee''s exemption proposal.  


Aldermen have been pressured in recent months to allow exemptions for the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District, which wants to construct a senior center behind its existing facility on Miley Road, but would be required to install a $25,000 sidewalk, as well. GTPDD Executive Director Rudy Johnson has threatened to move the organization out of Starkville if he is required to pay for a new sidewalk. The area is industrial, he argues, and very rarely has pedestrians. But people do walk and jog in the area for exercise, the transportation committee has said, and some employees walk along those roads to get to and from work.  


Ward I Alderman Ben Carver said he could be swayed to grant exemptions for the areas, one of the reasons being "overwhelming constituency requests. 


"Also it would be good to entice industrial-type businesses in that area," Carver said. "I''m afraid we''d lose some of these businesses if they have to come in and deal with these sidewalk requirements and they didn''t have to deal with them in Columbus or other areas." 


The Starkville Board of Aldermen meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment starkvegan commented at 12/6/2010 6:26:00 PM:

Starkville's city government is stupid beyond belief. The city seems dead-set on yielding to Rudy Johnson's extortion to move GTPDD out of Starkville. I say "if he doesn't build the sidewalks, let 'em move and good riddance." The GTPDD fiefdom wants to build a senior center for pity's sake. If there was ever a facility that demanded sidewalks, a senior center would be it. But, no, Mr Johnson and it seems a majority of our brain-dead aldermen, are insisting that Starkville remain in the 1950s automotive-centric school of urban design where anyone without a car is a 3rd class citizen.

Of course, the GTPDD knows that we have an automobile-only transportation system. Their own writings in the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (2007-2010) available on their website says as much. I quote the GTPDD (CEDS p.14): "Interstate bus service in available in each of the counties, but is not a major mode of transportation for local residents. Local public transportation is provided for target groups in some of the counties. Most passenger transportation is by private automobile, AND IS AN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ISSUE FOR LOW-INCOME PERSONS." (emphasis is mine)

Interestingly, the GTPDD own documents say this about their mission:
"Promote a balanced local and regional transportation system which provides for the safe, efficient, and economical movement of goods, services, and people within and through the GTPDD; and which is supportive of economic development and investment potential" (CEDS p.25)

I guess that sidewalks and pedestrians are not safe, efficient or economical in the eye of Mr. Johnson.

The GTPDD continues describing their goals (also on p.25):
"provide for the orderly growth and development of the GTPDD in order to improve the quality of life for its citizens while preserving the natural resources and environment of the area". The GTPDD continues to say that they will "facilitate continued growth of the area in a sound and orderly manner while providing guidance to towns and counties to insure a sound planning process on the local level" and that the GTPDD will "provide the necessary leadership and guidance to municipalities and counties in the GTPDD in order to promote the comprehensive planning process".

But, under Mr. Johnson's leadership the GTPDD seems hell-bent on subverting the comprehensive plan and sound planning process of the city of Starkville.

Lastly, Mr. Carver is not informed about economic development and industrial recruiting. A vast majority of industrial growth in this nation lately are US facilities for foreign companies (Severstal, Stark Aerospace, Nissan, Toyota, etc.) In my travels to Europe and Asia, "industrial" parks are have meticulously manicured grounds, underground utilities, and SIDEWALKS. Companies in Europe and Asia expect a "quality-of-life" component to all aspects of their business, including their manufacturing and industrial facility sites.


Article Comment feduptaxpayer commented at 12/6/2010 8:22:00 PM:

Instead of exempting streets- why not use some common sense in the selection process. Notice coming up the east side locksley way just off of blackjack. Pedestrians have worn a path on the side of the hill- an obvious place to add a sidewalk or multi-use path. I kinda like rudy's position to stand up to some of the stupid rules the city.


Article Comment paladin commented at 12/7/2010 10:13:00 AM:

Sidewalks should be the responsibility of the city - not individual businesses. Sure, it sounds nice to force a big business to build "you" a sidewalk, but it doesn't solve the pedestrian problem.

We end up with "sidewalks to nowhere". Take our new fire station. It has nice, new sidewalks. What do you do when you reach the end of it?
How about the sidewalk at the Waffle House? I don't think you are going to have a lot of foot traffic coming from the 25 bypass.

The city is passing its responsibilities on to others. How would you feel if you wanted to start a business in Starkville & finally found enough capital to get it off the ground. Then, you are told that you also have to build a sidewalk - even though there are no sidewalks that would be connected? You can demonize the GTPDD, but don't you think we are discouraging other businesses from coming here?

The city should make a prioritized list of where these sidewalks need to be - (Although I'm not in favor of a lot of money being spent on sidewalks right now)

Also, since the city can go the cheap-o route, why not businesses? Instead of building a sidewalk, the GTPDD should just buy some white paint and put a line in the road in front of their business for a pedestrian path. It's good enough for the city to do on hospital road - why not a business?


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