The Starkville Board of Aldermen Tuesday denied a developer”s conditional use request to convert the former University Inn hotel into condominiums.
Aldermen voted 4-2 to deny Tabor Properties” conditional use request to allow multi-family residential use in a C-2 general business zoning district. Developer Larry Tabor needs the city to approve his conditional use request in order to convert 100 former University Inn hotel rooms into 52 one-bedroom condominiums, dubbed “University Club Condominiums.”
Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker initially made a motion to approve the conditional use request, but the motion failed when it only received the support of fellow aldermen Ben Carver, of Ward 1, and Henry Vaughn Sr., of Ward 7. The remaining four aldermen, Sandra Sistrunk, Richard Corey, Jeremiah Dumas and Roy A. Perkins, voted against Tabor”s request.
Corey, who represents Ward 4, then made a motion to deny the conditional use request. Sistrunk, of Ward 2, Dumas, of Ward 5, and Perkins, of Ward 6, voted with Corey in denying the request. The motion passed 4-2, with only Parker and Vaughn voting against it. Carver did not vote.
City attorney Chris Latimer said the board”s basis for a decision on the property “in essence comes down to land-use compatibility” with surrounding properties, which are zoned C-2 general business and R-1 single-family residential.
Dumas cited short-term and long-term compatibility issues with surrounding properties when voicing his disapproval of the conditional use request.
Perkins said he voted against the request because a number of nearby residents were against the project. Mill Street resident Ben Wilson presented a petition with signatures of 31 nearby residents who were opposed to the conditional use request.
Parker, however, urged his fellow aldermen to look at letters the city received from people who supported the project, some of whom also signed the petition against the conditional use request.
Wilson said he talked with his neighbors about the University Club Condominiums project and decided to contact Mark Nicholas, of Nicholas Properties and the CottonMill Marketplace Development Group, who has spoken out against Tabor”s project for months. Nicholas then drafted the petition at Wilson”s request and Wilson presented it to aldermen Tuesday night during a 4-hour meeting at City Hall.
Nicholas was at the meeting Tuesday and once again voiced his opposition to the University Club Condominiums project. He already owns six acres at the corner of Spring Street and Highway 12, directly in front of the former University Inn, and the CottonMill Marketplace Development Group is trying to purchase the nearby E.E. Cooley Building from Mississippi State University for the CottonMill Marketplace project.
If the city allows Tabor to turn the former University Inn into condominiums, it would diminish the value of the surrounding commercial property, Nicholas said.
“I”m in commercial development; that”s how I make my living,” Nicholas said. “It”s my professional opinion that … if you all take a C-2 commercial piece of property and downgrade it to a multi-residential piece of property, it will definitely adversely impact the property values of its surroundings.”
Nicholas called the University Inn site “one of the best pieces of commercial property in the city.”
Attorney John Moore, who spoke on behalf of the University Club Condominiums project, said Nicholas” objection to the condominium plan is “almost laughable” because initial plans for the CottonMill Marketplace also included the construction of residential units at the former University Inn site.
“They were trying to do the same thing (as Tabor),” Moore said, but were unable to purchase the property from the owners.
In other business Tuesday, aldermen agreed to close sections of Main Street, Lampkin Street, Lafayette Street and Washington Street Friday from 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m. for a “Stop the Violence” parade.
The parade is being organized by Starkville Police Department Master Officer Freddie Bardley and other community leaders.
“It will show the citizens in the community that all youth aren”t about violence,” Bardley said. “They are about safety, they are concerned about their future.”
Additionally, on July 28, a youth summit will be held at the Starkville Sportsplex on Lynn Lane from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Several guest speakers are scheduled to appear.
“Our goal and our mission is to save our youth,” Bardley said. “We all know the crimes that have been occurring in Starkville are being committed by young people, whether it”s rape, whether it”s robberies, burglaries, assaults. They are being committed by our young people and a few of us came together and decided we can no longer sit by and allow our young people to destroy their futures without us becoming involved in it.”
Starkville Police Department Chief David Lindley said he is proud of Bardley for taking on the initiative.
“I think it”s excellent,” Lindley said. “I commend him for it. He”s been very active in helping the community.”
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