City seeks to ease parking ordinance

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Brookhaven officials say proposed parking changes will easerestrictions on retail developers while two proposed ordinanceswill shore up the city’s subdivision and stormwater runoffordinances.

Building Inspector Steve Moreton said a major change in thecity’s parking requirements, which have been in effect since 1991,would relax the ratio of parking spaces per square foot for retailspace. Officials said current rules hinder development.

“They were so restrictive people couldn’t afford to build,” saidLu Becker, a member of the Brookhaven Planning Commission.

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Moreton said current rules require one parking space for every100 square feet of retail floor space. Combined with setback andother regulations, he said, developers often must either seek avariance from the planning commission or modify their plans.

“They were having to shrink the size of their building down tofit on the lot,” Moreton said.

The proposed ordinance calls for one parking space for every 250square feet of retail floor space.

The commission has studied other communities’ parkingordinances, Moreton said, and Brookhaven’s proposed changes havebeen more than a year in the making.

“We’ve put in some long hours on that,” Becker said.

The three ordinances were presented to city aldermen at theirMay 17 meeting. Aldermen, though, tabled the ordinance requests toallow them more time for study.

A public hearing will be needed before the parking rules, whichare part of the city’s zoning ordinances, can go into effect. Thesubdivision and stormwater pollution prevention ordinances can beenacted with board action.

The new subdivision ordinance would replace one in effect since1974 and revised in 1996. The current ordinance is eight pages; thenew one is 47.

Moreton said the new ordinance calls for more preliminaryplanning, such as engineering and design. It also increases thedevelopment application process to be more comprehensive.

“The process is going to be more lengthy to allow more time forreview and approval,” Moreton said. “There were a lot of areas notcovered by the (current) ordinance.”

Moreton said he expects the changes would mean more engineeringcosts to developers because of the more detailed requirements.

“We’re going to look at every aspect,” Moreton said.

Regarding the subdivision ordinance, Moreton said a planningcommission subcommittee met six times to review subdivision rulesfrom Madison, Ridgeland, McComb and Natchez.

“We looked at other ordinances’ high points and tried to developthe best one we could for Brookhaven,” Moreton said.

The stormwater pollution prevention ordinance aims to regulaterunoff as property is developed.

The proposal addresses detention ponds for water and othermethods for controlling sediment runoff. Moreton said the ordinanceis targeted to protect areas downstream from the negative affectsof developments.

“This is trying to prevent that sediment from leaving yourproperty or going downstream to your neighbor’s property,” Moretonsaid.