Oktibbeha County supervisors on Monday ditched a $4,000, 65-page subdivision regulation proposal prepared last year by the Oxford-based planning firm Slaughter and Associates.
Supervisors have opted to task County Engineer Clyde Pritchard with developing a two- or three-page set of rules with fewer restrictions.
The board voted 4-1 to end its work relationship with Slaughter after supervisors expressed frustration with the finished product — a document many said would impose too many regulations on developers and stifle single-family home construction — and worried continued involvement with the firm would result in a larger bill.
Supervisors previously asked Pritchard to review the document, and he marked his notes in the proposal and sent it back to the board and to planner Mike Slaughter. The board decided to call Slaughter after Monday’s meeting, telling him his review of Pritchard’s suggestions was no longer needed.
Slaughter’s proposal mirrored others prepared for north Mississippi counties. A copy obtained by The Dispatch last year showed it would have established requirements for the legal subdivision of land, prevent overcrowding and facilitate the development of proper infrastructure — road and sidewalk construction, storm water abatement and other installations — in outlying county areas.
Additionally, the draft called for the creation of a planning committee to oversee development.
Supervisors told Pritchard they wanted a simple document to guide development, one that would contain impact studies triggered by potential large-scale housing projects. The board initiated the original process to develop subdivision rules after massive apartment complexes were constructed in the Blackjack and Oktoc areas.
Those developments, they say, led to traffic congestion and damaged roads.
District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams, who represents those areas, asked Williams to provide a clause that would insist upon improvement bonds up front in case of additional road deterioration associated with construction. District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller also asked that the county develop a way to track the monetary value of developments occurring within Oktibbeha County at any given time.
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery, who voted against authorizing Slaughter and Associates proceeding with developing the regulations last year, said switching gears and relying on local input should produce a document that’s more suited to the county’s needs.
State flag still flying above OCH
Although supervisors previously voted to lower the state flag from above county-owned buildings, its continued presence on the OCH Regional Medical Center drew sharp criticism from Oktibbeha County NAACP President Chris Taylor.
Taylor continuously lobbied supervisors last year and in January to lower the flag and its Confederate emblem, and the board tended to the matter with a 3-1 vote last month.
On Monday, Taylor said supervisors “should sell OCH” if it, a county-owned entity, continues not to adhere to the board’s new policy.
Supervisors deferred action on the matter, saying OCH decisions are made by its own board of trustees.
On Wednesday, OCH administrator Richard Hilton said the board of trustees has not scheduled any discussions regarding the state flag.
“Supervisors have left it up to entities where they have directors and trustees appointed … to decide the merit of any issue that comes before them,” he said. “If the supervisors wanted, their order could have extended to all of those entities, and discussions would have certainly then followed. If the board brings it up, they could vote either way.”
Montgomery, who was on personal leave when supervisors voted to lower the flag, said he would have opposed the matter if he was present for the action. Supervisors should have sent a resolution to Jackson urging state lawmakers to put the flag change up for referendum, he said, instead of subverting the democratic process.
Miller was the lone supervisor to oppose last month’s flag resolution. She cited 2001’s referendum in which statewide voters rejected a flag redesign. Locally, Oktibbeha County voters supported changing the flag.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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