Aldermen pass outdoor furniture ordinance

March 21, 2013 10:21:07 AM

Carl Smith - [email protected]


The Starkville Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance regulating the use, location and visibility of furniture storage Tuesday and is expected to address new landscaping codes at its next meeting. 


The ordinance passed 6-1 with Ward 4 Alderman Richard Corey casting the lone "Nay" vote. 


The new rule prohibits the continuous outside display/storage of goods, materials or equipment visible from any city street or roadway unless blocked by a continuous fence, wall or landscaping at least six feet high. No outside storage of case goods, indoor furniture fixtures or equipment shall be permitted outdoors unless it is screened and attached to a building, according to the new code. 


The new ordinance primarily targets commercial properties but does include residential areas. Industrial districts are exempt from the policy. Starkville properties must be brought into compliance within 30 days of the code's passage. 


Case goods not specifically intended for outdoor use, including upholstered chairs, couches, recliners, mattresses, coffee tables, end tables, dining room tables and chairs, are not allowed in any unscreened outdoor areas. The interior of a screened porch, for example, is not considered an outdoor area. Furniture placement is allowed for outdoor use on balconies or porches located on the second floor or higher of residences. 


The new ordinance states residents are allowed to move furniture outdoors temporarily during a move or for disposal if it is placed in a manner that it cannot be seen from ground level or offered for sale at a marked garage or yard sale between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. 


If city code enforcement inspectors discover violations, property owners will be notified and have 10 days to make corrections. A municipal hearing will be scheduled if violations are not corrected, and daily fines could then be assessed. Fine amounts were not listed in the ordinance's draft or discussed Tuesday. 


The board held a third public hearing Tuesday before adopting the ordinance. No residents spoke in favor or against the measure. 


Aldermen also held a public hearing in regard to a proposed landscape ordinance originally initiated by former city planner Ben Griffith. This proposed code would bring existing codes up to date, supplement newer city ordinances - sediment erosion control, sidewalks, smart codes and storm water - and improve permitting processes for residents. 


The current ordinance addresses all Starkville land zoned R-4, R-5, B-1, C-1, C-2, M-1, PUDs and SUs while exempting the central business district. The proposed ordinance would apply to all new development and redevelopment while exempting individual single-family lots and any property needing emergency repairs or construction. 


If passed, the new code would manage trees and plant life conditions. For example, the existing ordinance encourages planting in right-of-way areas but states the foliage shall not impede or obstruct drivers. The new ordinance would clearly set clearance requirements for trees and shrubs to ensure visibility and safety. 


The board declined action on the matter Tuesday and set a third public hearing on April 2. Aldermen said this delay would allow incoming Director of Community Development William Snowden time to review the ordinance in his new capacity. 


A public hearing on the matter drew three commenters: Ward 2 resident Milo Burnham, a retired horticulturist who formerly served on the Starkville Beautification Committee and now chairs the Starkville Board of Adjustments and Appeals, and Ward 7 residents Alvin Turner and Chris Taylor, a Starkville Parks Commission board member. 


All three spoke during the time allotted for residents against the measure. 


"As we already discussed, the central business district would not be included in the new ordinance. That makes me wonder if the present planting downtown would be allowed under the new ordinance anyway," he said. "The document, as proposed, is very detailed - it goes so far as to suggest arrangements. I understand these are suggestions. It is very explicit in that regard, but not in what is to be planted." 


Burnham said a supplemental appendix was lacking in the ordinance and the overall measure is not acceptable. 


He did stand before aldermen again during the allotted time for ordinance supporters. 


"I think it's a good beginning," Burnham said.

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch