2nd round of hearings set on city zoning plans

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 13, 2002

[09/13/02]A second round of planning sessions and public hearings has been set to start Oct. 7 for the drafting of new zoning regulations for neighborhoods in Vicksburg.

The sessions, called a “charrette,” will be at the Vicksburg Convention Center and open to the public. They follow April sessions that concentrated on the main corridors into the city and downtown. City officials say they are looking at a draft of the SmartCode developed from those meetings.

“We’re trying to empower each neighborhood to decide what their neighborhood should look like 30 years from now,” Mayor Laurence Leyens said.

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The sessions bring together engineers, designers, architects and planners with the public to design zoning regulations for the city.

The codes will emphasize public places, landscaping and pedestrians instead of suburban neighborhoods and vehicle traffic. The rules will have to be adopted by the board and are not expected to affect current businesses.

“The important thing to remember is that nothing is going to change the day after we adopt them,” Leyens said.

The new codes will primarily affect new businesses or major renovations. Some things the SmartCode will stipulate in some areas will include building height, set- back distance from the road and total size of the building.

The codes can also include colors, types of construction or location of retail shops.

The SmartCode will be the first major revision to the city’s current zoning laws written in 1971. Some adjustments were made in 1996 to accommodate the areas annexed into the city in 1990, and a draft proposal of a new zoning ordinance was put together by a citizen committee three years ago, but has not been implemented.