By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – City officials fielded questions about a proposed trailer park expansion as well as zoning ordinances regulating development in Water Valley during the monthly Board of Alderman meeting held May 2 at city hall.
Water Valley resident Lauren Stokes spoke at the meeting, first noting there has been a lot of passion about the Golden Wing, LLC, proposal to expand an existing mobile home park on Gore Circle. Stokes questioned the lack of city zoning laws that regulate development in town and the city’s protocol for alerting the public about planning commission meetings and agendas for public meetings.
“I am the voice of a few others this evening,” Stokes said in her introductory statement, noting the others attending the meeting. “This just doesn’t seem like a great thing for our town – which has been growing in such beautiful and amazing ways over the past last couple of years – with the effect it would have on the sewage system, the school system,” Stoke told city officials about the proposed development. “Trailers don’t bring income like houses bring in income,” Stokes continued.
She also shared statistics from the Census from 2015, noting that Water Valley had only 26.5 percent of people in poverty and the median housing value is $77,000 and a median income of $30,000.
“What that tells me is people can afford to get houses here. Isn’t that what we want people to be in, forever homes,” Stokes continued.
Alderman-at-Large Donald Gray first answered Stokes, explaining that the city already has zoning restrictions in place.
Mayor Larry Hart also noted that the zoning ordinance was adopted back in 2006, explaining the previous board and mayor hired a city planner from Oxford to update the ordinance that included input from the public. He explained that the current mobile home park located on Gore Circle was already in existence and was grandfathered in when the ordinance was adopted. Hart added that if the developers bring new units in, they will be required to comply with the ordinance.
Pointing to the city’s zoning map, Hart added that the 4.7 acre tract of land where the proposed development will go is one of three areas inside the city limits zoned R-4, or special single-family residential district, which allows smaller residential lots and also mobile homes, manufactured housing and pre-fabricated housing. Among requirements in the ordinance are that the density is not to exceed six units per acre and the mobile home park must have city-approved water and sewer systems, paved roads and landscaping, and the site plan must be approved by the planning commission.
“In this case, there are 14 trailers there. Golden Wing presented a set of plans to the zoning administrator that complies with the ordinance,” Hart continued, referring to a meeting held April 17 when planning commissioners were presented the plans for the development.
The Herald previously reported that during that meeting it was determined that the proposal to remove the existing trailers located on the property and bring in 24 new trailers, and building new roads, sidewalks and storm drain complies with Water Valley’s Zoning and Development Ordinance.
“It will be curbs and gutters and paved streets,” Hart added at the May 2 meeting. He also said the plans include green space that could be utilized for a recreation area for kids who live in the development.
“Where we are now, we are awaiting the guys to come and purchase the (building) permit,” Hart said.
Hart also reiterated that the acreage the developers own that is adjacent to the city property, but not inside the city limits, is not under the jurisdiction of the city ordinance. Hart also revisited comments made during the March city meeting, explaining that the city has no intentions of expanding city utilities to serve the portion of the property located in the county.
The entire tract purchased by Golden Wing, LLC, is just under 30 acres. Property owners Turner Barnes, Andrew Ross, Hayden Alexander and Josh Matthews have not publicly stated if they intend to develop the property located in the county.
Informing the Public
Stokes also questioned how the public is informed about planning commission meetings.
“Facebook is a great resource, a board out on the wall, a community calendar in the paper. There are a lot of people who really want to be involved in a lot of different ways and that seems to be a great thing for y’all. To have people who are there and care and want to be involved is what I think every town would like to have,” Stokes told city officials.
Hart and other city officials explained the current protocol for planning commission meetings, which are held on the third Monday of each month at city hall at 7 p.m.
City Clerk Vivian Snider explained that the meetings are only held if there is any business that needs to be handled.
“Where is the notice posted?” Charlotte Lane asked about the process for alerting the public and posting the agenda for the meetings.
“There hasn’t been one posted,” Snider explained.
“That is something we can ask the commission to look in to,” Hart added.
Other business discussed in the meeting included:
• Approved the minutes from the April meetings.
• Approved a request from North Central Planning and Development District for $8,000 administrative fees for a sewage rehab project that has started in Water Valley. A second request from Willis Engineer for $20,953 for the sewage project was also approved. Last year the city was awarded a combination of grants totaling $600,000 to fund the sewage project – – half from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and half from a Community Development Block Grant funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city will kick in $20,000 in matching funds or in-kind work as part of the grant requirement.