Hattiesburg to replace dated land development code in 2017

Hattiesburg to replace dated land development code in 2017

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council delayed voting on a new land development code at a meeting called specially to adopt the ordinance.

The new code would update, shorten and replace the city's current rules for building, which were adopted in 1989.

"We've needed this for such a long time," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.

Bob Barber, partner at Orion Planning and Design in Hernando, Miss., worked with the city's planning department on the new code and said they made major revisions to the rules for zoning districts, use regulations, standards of design, infrastructure and environmental standards, consolidated and simplified the sign code and streamlined code administration and enforcement.

"The user wants to know what they want to know," said Barber. "They don't want to have to sift through all the kind of stuff. The want to target what they need to know, get their business done and get out."

Barber said the new code should do that and outline more specific guidelines on what structures can be build with certain zoning permits.

"Someone comes and he asks to be zoned into B-3, and says I'd like to build this little (thing), where the neighbors say 'Oh that's not a problem. We could use a  launderette here or whatever.' As soon he gets that B-3 zoning, then he can go out and create a bar or what have you. So have we worked on that? Is there some revision?" asked Carter Carroll, Hattiesburg City Council president.

Barber said, "Throughout the conditional use process, it can be heard by the planning commission, conditions applied for that specific kind of use only, and you don't open up the entire (tin)."

Barber said the new code's been in the works for months, and was reviewed and tweaked by the city's planning commission and experts throughout the state.

"I'm certain you've got the most peer-reviewed code in the state of Mississippi and probably in the southeast region," Barber said. "It has been reviewed."

Barber said the Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association was especially helpful in rewording and reworking the proposed code.

"I would say the home builders have spent probably 400 or 500 man-hours on this, going through it line be line over and over and over," said Dennis Pierce, member of the Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association.

Joseph White, chairman of the Hattiesburg Planning Commission, said, "It's a tremendous document.I urge you to approve it. I urge you to approve this new code. It's going to make this city work even better."

While the council agrees with the majority of the changes, it wants to be sure all code variances still come before the council. Mary Dryden, Ward 4 council member, said the council is a "safety net" for the citizens of Hattiesburg who may be unfamiliar with how the planning process works or what an adjustment to a particular development may mean for them. That change is small, but big enough, according to its attorney Jim Gladden, to need new public hearings for the new plan.

The council will re-advertise those changes as soon as possible, and vote on the new code in January. It takes effect 30 days after it's approved, and can be amended as needed.