Report from planning sessions due next year

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2002

City landscaping employees clean up the limbs, beer bottles and debris behind the old Western Auto building next to People’s Drugstore on Washington Street. The city bought the property from the Foundation of Historic Preservation as part of the downtown urban revitalization project. City Landscaper Jeff Richardson said the city will hire an architect to stabilize the front and exterior of the building and then try to sell it to a merchant. (The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[10/16/02]Vicksburg officials say they won’t know what changes will be suggested from a round of planning sessions until new land-use ordinances come back from designers next year.

Engineers, architects and city planners finished phase II of the charrette Friday and left with the information gathered during the five days of meeting with the public.

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Plans are to incorporate ideas into a new SmartCode for Vicksburg. The process is running parallel to the city’s downtown revitalization process and is part of the administration’s initiative to clean up the town and establish long-term plans for Vicksburg.

Ronnie Bounds, city planner, said the new code will regulate growth in commercial and residential areas and is expected to be adopted by the city board next summer. The copyrighted process administered by consultants is expected to focus more on public areas such as parks and can be modified to allow for mixed uses such as small, community shops in residential neighborhoods.

Bounds said the new codes will focus on land use over the next 10 years and will have little effect on existing areas. The new rules will have to be presented at a public hearing before being adopted by the city board, Bounds said.

The previous charrette, in April at the convention center, concentrated on main corridors and commercial areas. A draft document from that session is expected to be turned over to the city in the next 30 days, said South Ward Aldermen Sid Beauman.

A draft proposal of new zoning ordinance shelved for three years has been put aside in favor of the new code to come out of the charrette.

A citizen advisory committee worked with the city’s planning department for more than a year developing the proposed new zoning ordinance. It was put on hold after the city’s zoning official left the city.

The city’s zoning laws were created in 1971. Some adjustments were made in 1996 to accommodate the areas annexed into the city in 1990.

Under the state’s urban renewal laws, the city has been acquiring dilapidated properties downtown for redevelopment. Some of those properties are being held for public use and others will be advertised for business development.