News Column

Rezoning on Ashburn Street returns to city board

August 25, 2014

By Vershal Hogan, The Natchez Democrat, Miss.

Aug. 26--NATCHEZ -- The proposal to rezone a former plantation property that is now inside the city limits for development into mixed residential housing will be back before the board of aldermen tonight.

Earlier this month, developer Jody Foster brought to the aldermen his proposal to rezone 6.6 acres of the former Ashburn Plantation from villa plantation to R3 mixed density residential to allow the construction of 33 patio homes and townhouses.

R3 zoning allows for one and two-family home construction.

City Planner Frankie Legaux said earlier this month she believes the villa residential zoning of the Ashburn property was done so by mistake by planners who believed the Ashburn plantation home was still on the property, when it had actually burned in 1872. The property is not registered as a Mississippi Landmark.

The decision about rezoning was tabled in order to get more input from residents who live in the area, some of whom said the development would not mesh well with adjacent properties or might limit access to historic sites associated with the property, in particular a pond where black churches performed hundreds of baptisms.

The Ashburn acreage is located near two historic properties, Arlington and Routhland.

Legaux said a meeting between the concerned parties, the aldermen and Foster happened last week, and the recommendation to move forward won't come from the planning department, but from the aldermen.

"When they met, they wanted to see if they could come to some kind of agreement and talk about what things they wanted and didn't want so they could reach a happy medium," she said.

Foster said the meeting went well and felt he was able to address many of the concerns presented to him.

"I am making some pretty severe compromises, and I think those will be presented to the aldermen tomorrow," he said.

Foster said in his plan, he will build a mix of 33 to 39 patio homes and townhouses marketed primarily to older people and those seeking a vacation home in the area.

Foster said one of the compromises he was making was to only develop 31 lots even though R3 zoning would allow for up to 70.

"Basically, I am not maximizing the density that I could in R3," he said.

Foster said he would be surprised if the aldermen did not approve the rezoning.

The Natchez Planning Commission heard the proposal in July but denied the request.

The meeting will be 6 p.m. today in the council chambers on South Pearl Street.


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Source: Natchez Democrat, The (MS)

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