Parking lot variance likely for apartments|[02/10/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 10, 2007

A parking area variance could likely be granted for Warren-Yazoo Mental Health’s apartment complex if planners behind the project can guarantee the property will never sell to a for-profit organization, said Mayor Laurence Leyens.

&#8220I’m interested in getting the legal department to research if there’s such a thing as a covenant on a variance,” he said.

The city board heard the appeal by WYMH Friday on their request for a smaller-than-required parking area at a planned 17-unit Wisconsin Avenue apartment development.

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Although the zoning board last month voted in favor of the variance, the number of votes was not enough to pass the request.

The zoning board has seven members, with the votes of at least four required for passage of a measure.

&#8220We didn’t get any feedback on what we needed to do,” Donna Hardy told the board. &#8220We don’t know what else we can do. We’ve already spent $10,000 in testing and have turned it around every way possible.”

Plans show 22 parking spaces instead of the 34 that would be the minimum under zoning standards.

Representatives from WYMH said the site’s terrain and expected demand for parking should allow the proposed 22 parking spaces to be sufficient.

Hardy argued that the $1.23 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is in jeopardy unless the variance is granted.

&#8220You’ve already said we’re running out of property in Vicksburg,” she said. &#8220The luck it takes to find property this ideal, this close is unreal.”

Hardy assured board members the property is not WYMH’s to sell.

&#8220It’s a HUD property. We could never sell it,” she said.

But area residents argue that the zoning rules and regulations should apply to everyone.

&#8220If the facility won’t fit, a different site should have been selected,” said Maison Rue resident Joe Strickland.

The complex is to be occupied by people who have been treated at Warren-Yazoo, which will operate the complex. However, the complex will not be a treatment center, and residents would live there independently and for indefinite lengths of time.

Leyens said a decision on the appeal would be given at a later date.

Warren-Yazoo has other buildings in the area, including its main campus, 3444 Wisconsin Ave.