By Ricki Garrett, PhD, Alderwoman at Large
The Board of Aldermen are beginning 2023 with a very substantial plate of issues to work through. Some of the issues have previously been discussed and analyzed, and some of them are new, but all of them will have to be dealt with as soon as possible for the betterment of Clinton.
In the January 3 meeting, the Board approved the use of Clinton Police Department officers working off-duty using City uniforms, weapons, and vehicles at Pinelake Church. This is allowed under Mississippi Code 17-25-11. The Board also rejected the bids received for the Broadway Street/Springridge Road Sewer Repair Project and approved the re-advertisement for the projects. Bids came in higher than expected.
In a second appearance before the Board, Maker Star Inc., a bitcoin mining company out of California, asked for a conditional use to put a facility at two locations in Clinton, one at 1840 North Frontage Road and one at 1110 Industrial Park Drive. The Board’s original denial revolved around the use of a temporary building at both locations for the office space. The company returned with a plan to build a permanent office at both locations, and the Board granted approval for the conditional use. The Board also approved a conditional use for the signage at the Mississippi College Gore Arts Complex at 400 East College Street.
The most significant discussion of the evening concerned a request by the owners of the Country Kitchen to allow them a conditional use to operate a food truck at 1104 East Northside Drive. Since the restaurant is no longer open, the owners wanted to keep a presence in Clinton and operate from the site on Northside Drive. The concerns expressed included setting a precedent for food trucks to be located all over the city, rather than in one specified location, and, also, the disadvantage that these food trucks create for brick-and-mortar restaurants in the city, which have much greater operational overhead. There was also appreciation expressed for the restaurant. Ward 1 Alderwoman Karen Godfrey recommended allowing a temporary approval of six months to allow Mayor Fisher to continue to pursue a central location for all approved food trucks to locate. Although there was still concern about setting a precedent for the benefit of one individual, the Board voted to approve the motion on a five-to-two vote with Ward 5 Alderman, Jim Martin, and I voting no.
The Board also approved a dimensional variance for Brandy Perry to build a home on property that was smaller than the two-acre minimum required, and, also, approved a dimensional variance for Carl Griffin to significantly increase the size of an existing storage building on Keith Lane. The request garnered Board approval this time because of a change to enclose all four walls of the building. A conceptual site plan was also approved for the possible construction of a Salsas Mexican Grill on Springridge Road behind Walgreens.
In a final matter of business, I requested information on the number of conditional use and dimensional variances that had come before the Board in the years 2017-2019 compared to the years 2020-2022, as well as a comparison of the number of approvals. Hopefully, this information will provide the Board with a perspective on whether these exceptions are being sought and approved more than they should be.
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.