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City board begins process for permitting new downtown Natchez development
from Staff Reports - NEWS
August 9, 2017 -

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – The city Planning Commission will soon begin taking steps for revising downtown development regulations that unintentionally disallow properties being used for new bars, museums, townhouses and other structures that already exist in the Natchez Historic District.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen on Tuesday gave city planning and zoning director Rico Giani the green light to proceed with proposals for change. When the board had city development regulations rewritten in 2014, they inadvertently prohibited a variety of common uses for downtown properties.

“Obviously, we need to make some changes,” said Alderman Sarah Carter Smith.

The development code governs construction and land use in Natchez. The regulations adopted nearly three years ago don’t even include new parks and government buildings on the list of permitted land uses, Giani said. “It’s something we want to correct,” he said.

The disallowed land uses don’t apply to those that existed prior to the regulations’ 2014 enactment. The development code contains rules for construction, what types of structures can be located in particular sections of town, how land can be used, the process for getting city approval to build and penalties for violating the development rules.

Giani said Tuesday that revisions can be crafted to allow the now-banned new developments but impose restrictions on the location of, for example, any new bars in the downtown area.

The Natchez Planning Commission will hold public meetings to review proposals to be submitted to the Board of Aldermen for ratification.

This comes as a study is underway by consultants on how to revitalize downtown Natchez. Among the top priorities they presented last month is to change the city zoning restrictions that eliminate the new developments. The study is sponsored by FOR Natchez, a private community organization working to foster more downtown development.

Also aimed at spurring more activities is the Board of Aldermen’s establishment last month of the Natchez Leisure and Recreation District, which includes much of downtown bordered by Broadway, Jefferson, Martin Luther King and Main streets and extends along Canal Street to John R. Junkin Drive. Also known as the go-cup zone, it imposes rules for drinkers wanting to legally stroll downtown Natchez with booze purchased from licensed bars and restaurants in the district. | © 2014 | All Rights Reserved
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