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Zoning public hearing set for annexed areas

The Brookhaven Board of Aldermen had plenty of construction andimprovement on the table at Tuesday night’s meeting, coveringeverything from the multimodal building to paving to cleaning upovergrown lots and dilapidated houses.

With a rezoning map of the annexation area complete, the boardtook the next step in making it permanent by setting a time for apublic hearing, during which the community will have a chance togive their input and ideas on zoning.

The zoning public hearing was set by the board for Tuesday, July29, at 5:30 p.m. It will be held in the boardroom and open to thepublic.

Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell suggested a work session soaldermen could be thoroughly familiar with the zoning issues intheir wards before sitting down with the public about them.

“We need to be on board and thoroughly look at it before we try todiscuss it with the general public,” he said. “We need to getfamiliar with what the changes are.”

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said she had already been in todiscuss it with Public Works Director Steve Moreton, and that sheplanned to discuss it with him again.

Aldermen decided to each spend individual time looking over the mapso as to become more familiar with it before the hearing at the endof the month.

The much-discussed multimodal transportation facility was alsobrought up by Mayor Bob Massengill, who said yet another roadblockhas popped up in the plans.

While Canadian National and AMTRAK have finally agreed on the dockheight issues that have plagued the development of the project,which began in 1999, the Federal Railroad Administration has notyet given their OK on the agreement.

“The FRA has the final say,” said Massengill.

In addition, Massengill said, the Mississippi Department ofTransportation won’t consider the plan without a new cost estimate,since the last one was done two and a half years ago.

“I’m hoping we can reason with the FRA, and if not, that ourcongressional delegation can,” he said. “Right now people areboarding the trains from a stool, and we’re trying to improvethings tremendously. If you look at the setup we have now, it’s notappealing.”

Massengill also told the board that the work on the new policestation, which will be built in the old Mississippi Highway Patrolbuilding on Highway 51, is getting closer every day. He said anarchitect told him that some of the paint in the building containslead, and that it cannot be painted over but needs to beremoved.

“This should be our last roadblock,” he said, saying the buildinghas a lot of paneling, so the majority of paint removal would applyto doorjambs and facings.

The board agreed to go ahead with removal of the lead paints if thecost comes out to be less than $7,500.

Massengill also asked aldermen to get together a list of streetsthat need paving, as asphalt prices are going up in the wake offuel prices. He said if the city can do the work in the fall andput it on the next fiscal year’s budget, it would save the cityquite a bit of money.

Mike McKenzie of Williford Gearhart & Knight spoke to the boardas well, and updated aldermen on projects the engineering firm isworking on for the city. McKenzie said he’d like to update theboard possibly monthly to keep them abreast of current projectstheir progress.

McKenzie said bids have been taken on the sewer project WGK hastaken on for the city, and that plans have been approved by theDepartment of Environmental Quality and forwarded to theEnvironmental Protection Agency in Atlanta. He said EPA iscurrently reviewing the project.

The board discussed the Community Development Block Grant appliedfor by the county to work on the sewers, and the fact that theDepartment of Housing and Urban Development has awarded site visitson both the CDBG grant, which will go to the sewers if awarded, aswell as the one the city applied for in the name of a seniorcitizens’ center to go downtown.

The Halbert Heights ditch survey has been completed and the designis underway as long as no problems are encountered with easements,and WGK officials plan to request to advertise for bids at the nextboard meeting, McKenzie said. He said plans are to rework the ditchfrom Brookway Boulevard as far as the funding will allow them topave.

“We’re going to do everything we can with what we have,” he said,stating the project currently has about $665,000 in funding.

McKenzie said he had also discussed plans on several newdevelopments in the city with Moreton.