Pine Hills residents come out in opposition to zoning request

By BUSTER WOLFE,

The zoning issue that received the most comments from Hattiesburg residents during last Monday’s lengthy hearing generated no discussion during the City Council’s 3-2 vote to approve changing the 1711 S. 28th Ave. property from single-family residential to professional business.

Property owner Chad Edmonson filed a petition to change the zoning classification to build a 2,500-square-foot office building, citing a need for more small office space in the area because of his difficulty finding a suitable location. He manages finances for companies in a nine-state area.

Eleven residents in the Pine Hills area spoke out against the zoning change during the City Hall hearing, saying their neighborhood was established in 1939 and had historical significance. The Rev. Joe Wily of 300 Pine Hills Drive presented the residents’ case to oppose the zoning change during Monday’s hearing.

“We like our neighborhood,” he said. “We like the esthetics of it. The only problem that we have is the traffic that we have coming through there.”

Wily said the neighborhood had made a commitment with the city for how residents wanted the area.

“Everybody wants to be neighbors,” he said. “Everybody has a concern about each other. … What would happen if we do change this? People have probably already written letters or called the City Council because Brycewood (Drive residents) don’t want it in their backyard. I don’t want it in mine. … Why can’t we get to the point where I can say what I want in my backyard? Mr. Edmonson doesn’t live in that area.”

Wily said he believes Edmonson is not acting alone.

“It is my inclination that somebody else is putting him up to do this,” he said. “We are satisfied with the way the neighborhood is set up and we don’t want to be sold out. We don’t want it to start out being one thing and end up being something else.”

Edmondson told the City Council he was unable to find another suitable location for his office closer to his home.

“I can assure you that I wish I could find any other place in Hattiesburg,” he said. “It is a lot of work to get a property rezoned. This is me trying to build an office for my business.”

Edmonson presented a map showing where he wanted to build and the surrounding area. He said he is not a part of the Pine Hills Drive community with the proposed office building, but a part of the 28th Avenue business corridor.

“I think the changes to this neighborhood are obvious,” he said. “The traffic in this area is very, very intensive and supports my contention that this should not be zoned residential and should be zoned commercial.”

The City Council voted 3-2 on the motion to approve the zoning change behind the motion of Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado. Also favoring the change were Ward 1 Alderman Jeffrey George and Ward 5 Alderman Nicholas Brown. Board President Carter Carroll of Ward 3 and Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden voted against the motion.

In other action the board:

• Adopted unanimously an Ordinance amending a Land Development Code, Ord. No. 3209, as amended, Section 6, Table 6.1 B-5 from “Minimum front setback ‘0’ feet and Maximum front setback “30” feet” to read: “Minimum front setback ‘30’ feet and Maximum front setback ‘150’ feet.” The Planning Commission voted to approve on Sept. 6.

·       Approved unanimously a petition filed by Fred Yeager, Applicant, on behalf of Prince McDougal, Regions Mortgage Operations Center, Representative, to request a variance from Section 7.5.1.3, which states curb cuts shall be located directly opposite one another or separated by a minimum of 150 feet and instead allow a 100-foot separation between curb cuts across Lamar Boulevard for a variance of 50 feet for the property located at 5214 Lincoln Road. The Planning Commission recommended to approve on Sept. 6, 2017.

·       Approved unanimously a petition filed by Fred Yeager, Applicant, on behalf of Prince McDougal, Regions Mortgage Operations Center, Representative, to request a variance from Section 6, Table 6.1, which states that the maximum front setback for a B-5 development is 30 feet and instead allow a setback of 142 feet, 4 inches for a variance of 112 feet 4 inches on the Lincoln Road façade, and allow a setback of 45 feet 10 inches for a variance of 15 feet 10 inches on the Lamar Boulevard façade side for the property located at 5214 Lincoln Road. The Planning Commission recommended to approve on Sept. 6.

·       Adopted unanimously a Resolution temporarily suspending the application of the requirements of the Land Development Code for certain properties to be repaired, rehabilitated, and/or reconstructed as a result of the January 2017 tornado.

·       Adopted unanimously a Resolution declaring certain vehicles as surplus; authorize the sale of said vehicles at auction and the removal of said vehicles from the inventory of Hub City Transit.

·       Adopted unanimously a Resolution rescinding resolutions adopted Aug. 22, declaring unsafe properties.

·       Adopted unanimously a Resolution setting Public Hearing before City Council on Monday, Oct. 16, to determine if certain properties are in such a state of uncleanliness so as to be a menace to the health and safety of the community and providing for notice to owners and authorize publication of the notice hearing.

·       Adopted a Resolution appointing Janet Beech Deputy Clerk of Council effective Oct. 1. A motion to table the resolution by Delgado was defeated and the resolution was adopted 3-2 with George, Carroll and Dryden supporting the appointment.

·       Adopted unanimously a Resolution authorizing Requisition No. 9 from the Project Fund Construction Account in connection with a certain loan agreement, dated Aug. 18, 2016, by and between the Mississippi Development Bank and the City of Hattiesburg. Dryden recused herself from the vote.

·       Adopted unanimously a Resolution authorizing Disbursement No. 19 from the Project Fund Escrow Account in connection with certain Equipment Lease/Purchase Agreement, dated as of Feb. 4, 2016, by and between Banc of America Public Capital Corp. and City of Hattiesburg.

·       Authorized Mayor to execute contract with M and M Services, Inc., for the Mount Carmel Baptist Church Demolition Project in the amount of $339,970; said contract on file in the City Clerk's office. George, Carroll and Dryden supported the motion, Delgado voted against it and Brown abstained.

·       Authorized Mayor to execute four copies of contract with C.B. Developers for the Comprehensive Water Improvements Phase II - Palmers Crossing and Irene Chapel Project. Dryden recused herself from the vote and Delgado voted against the motion to approve.

·       Approved unanimously to create the position of Customer Service Coordinator for the City of Hattiesburg at an annual salary of $45,000 in accordance with Ordinance Number 3154.

·       Approved unanimously the State Holiday Schedule as the City's holidays for the fiscal year 2017-18.

·       Approved unanimously the purchase of Stalker DSR Radar Units from Applied Concepts, Inc. for the Hattiesburg Police Department in the amount of $24,153 as a sole source purchase.

·       Approved unanimously the purchase of lighting products and siren controller from SoundOff Signal for the Hattiesburg Police Department in the amount of $18,257.40 as a sole source purchase.

·       Approved unanimously and Authorized execution of two copies of a Joint-Funding Agreement for Oct. 1, 2017-Sept. 30, 2018 to continue the cooperative program between the U.S. Geological Survey and the City of Hattiesburg for the operation and maintenance of the Bouie River Flood Monitoring Site at Glendale Avenue, and for hydrologic modeling and development of inundation maps for the Leaf River, with total cost to the city of $5,865.

·       Approved unanimously and authorized Mayor to execute in triplicate a Contractor and Owner Agreement and a Housing Rehabilitation Grant Award to Mary Craft of 107 Montague Drive in an amount not to exceed $50,000, according to the Housing Rehabilitation and Housing Programs Manual Section VII (E).

·       Approved unanimously and authorized Mayor to execute in triplicate a Contractor and Owner Agreement and a Housing Rehabilitation Grant Award to Olivia Van Buren of 141 Chambless Drive in an amount not to exceed $50,000, according to the Housing Rehabilitation and Housing Programs Manual Section VII (E).

·       Approved and authorized Mayor to execute in triplicate a Contractor and Owner Agreement and a Housing Repair Grant Award to Maggie Allen of 910 Wedgewood Drive in an amount not to exceed $10,000 according to the Housing Rehabilitation and Housing Programs Manual Section VIII (E).

·       Ratified and confirmed the Mayor's re-appointment of Sean Farrell to the Cable Advisory Board, for a term beginning 9-19-2017 and ending 3-2-2021.

·       Approved the purchase of 10 4RE In-Car video systems and 10 VISTA HD Wi-Fi Extended Capacity System from WatchGuard Video for the Hattiesburg Police Department in the amount of $$77,750 as a sole source purchase. WatchGuard is the exclusive and sole manufacturer of the 4RE Digital In-Car Video System and the VISTA, wearable camera system.

·       Acknowledged receipt of the monthly budget report for the month ending Aug. 31, 2017.

·       Acknowledged receipt of the unadvertised bid purchase docket for the period of Feb. 16, 2017 through June 30, 2017, and July 1, 2017 through Aug. 11, 2017.

·       Acknowledged receipt of Declaration of Forfeitures from the Forrest/Perry Metro Narcotics Task Force forfeiting $2,415 to the Hattiesburg Police Department. The money will be forfeited in the following manner: $1,932 will be placed in the Hattiesburg Police Department's Forfeiture Fund and $483 will be placed in the Forrest County District Attorney's Office.

·       Acknowledged the execution and submission by the Hattiesburg Police Department of the Stop Violence Against Women Grant.

·       Authorized submission of grant application to Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for the 2017 Solid Waste Assistance Grant in the amount of $75,000 to fund a Household Hazardous Waste "Right Way to Throw Away Day" (Amnesty Day); grant requires the city to provide $25,000 in matching funds.

·       Approved the sale of grave spaces.

·       Approved claims docket for the period ending Sept. 15, 2017.