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Civic Corner: Board of Aldermen Recap – Nov 2022

Ricki Garrett alderwoman at largeBy Ricki Garrett, PhD, Alderwoman at Large

The Board of Aldermen are dealing with a great deal of significant issues currently, and the meeting Tuesday night (October 18) highlighted some of those issues.
Following the approval of the consent agenda, the Board heard a report from our Police Chief, Ford Hayman. The good news is that crime is down in our city, and the Police Department is doing outstanding work in keeping Clinton a very safe and livable city.

Later in the meeting, the Board approved additional tools for the department to help maintain this high level of success. A Homeland Security Grant Award in the amount of $85,000 for the EOD/Bomb Team enabled us to approve thermal imaging/night sight optic systems for the SWAT team. The Board also approved the purchase of four new patrol vehicles and a thermal imaging drone. A reader access control system for Police Headquarters and Court Services has also been approved.

Several Certificates of Appropriateness were awarded to projects, including one at Mississippi College, one at Shane Orman Construction, and one at Huntcliff Vet Clinic. Dimensional Variances were approved for the sign at the new Quick Trip and one for an addition to St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church.

The next items on the agenda were related to an issue that has received a great deal of attention lately, with, unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation circulating online and elsewhere. This issue is related to zoning, and I want to, hopefully, provide the facts, pro and con, so that we can lower the temperature on this issue and reach a reasonable compromise.

In a recent Board meeting, our Director of Community Development, Roy Edwards, shared with the Board the fact that, although in 2018 the Board of Aldermen had created a new Comprehensive Plan for Clinton, we had not changed the zoning laws to match the plan. In that Comprehensive Plan, the Board had decided to change the areas zoned Agricultural to Residential Estate for two reasons. The first was to move Clinton forward to a future that would include more residential and retail development, and the second was to address a recent court case in which the court had determined that a city had no control over an agriculturally zoned area and could not prevent a large pig farm operation from opening in the city. The decision to move from Agricultural to Residential Estate had nothing to do with marijuana, because, at that time, there was no medical marijuana issue. Once the current Board realized that our zoning did not match our Comprehensive Plan, the process began to address that problem.

At the same time, we had several landowners who wanted to changed their property from Residential Estate to Agricultural in order to be able to have farm animals on their land. The Board of Aldermen have already begun developing a conditional use for Residential Estate that would allow a certain number of farm animals, depending on the size of the land, and provided there are no objections from their neighbors. In that way, the land wouldn’t have to be changed to Agricultural to meet the needs of the landowners.

In the case of the landowners who currently have Agricultural zoning, the Board is looking at how to make our zoning match our Comprehensive Plan. We can either adjust the Comprehensive Plan, or we can move forward with rezoning Agricultural to Residential Estate. In either case, the current agriculturally zoned land is grandfathered in, so, unless the land is sold, it remains agriculturally zoned. The Board is also looking into any tax implications its decision would have. My hope is that everyone involved will look at what is best for Clinton and will respect both the process and the intentions of everyone involved.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Space will be provided in each issue of The Clinton Courier to the Board of Aldermen for a recap of each meeting. Aldermen are asked to volunteer to provide this recap for the Courier.



 

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