October 11, 2012 10:55:49 AM
STARKVILLE - Originally, it did not look as though the Starkville Zoning and Planning Commission was going to recommend approval of a proposed corporate housing complex in the Thad Cochran Research Park, but after two provisions were added Tuesday night, the commission unanimously agreed to give a recommendation to the Board of Aldermen.
Commission Chair Jerry Emison recused himself from the discussion because he is employed by Mississippi State University, which owns property adjacent to the proposed development.
There was never a question as to whether or not the Research Park could benefit from a residential or mixed-use development. "It makes a lot of sense," Commissioner Jason Walker said.
But Walker and the commission saw some inconsistencies in the plans and did have questions, mostly concerning the conceptual design of the project, which was proposed by Clyde Pritchard and touted as the ultimate "Live, Work, Play" development.
A 40-residence housing complex called 300 Traditions would be the only one of its kind in Starkville, according to Pritchard, whose plans entail the potential use of electric, street-legal vehicles and called for a minimum two-and-a-half parking spaces per unit.
In theory, Pritchard said the development could not only serve the park's temporary corporate housing needs, but also provide a place to stay for the employees of the park who are from other countries and have no access to a vehicle.
Jack Wallace, of the Oktibbeha County Economic Development Authority, backed Pritchard's plans and said implementing the living component would hopefully bring on the other "play" component of the project.
Walker said he sees a huge opportunity to, "really establish a village neighborhood type of feeling," but added that he felt like the proposed conceptual design lacked that.
The number of parking spaces seemed excessive to the commission, and commissioner Jeremy Murdock said he was concerned that the large asphalt parking lots would take away from the character of the park, which he said has done a good job with combining the industrial with the natural.
Pritchard assured the commission that the conceptual design was definitely something that could be altered, but that the parcel of land on the development is limited.
In the motion made by Walker, the first condition lowered the maximum parking spaces per unit to one and a half. The second called for the scattered buildings in the conceptual design to be "clustered" and set no farther apart than meets the minimum fire code requirements.
The recommendation will be presented to the Starkville Board of Aldermen.