By Cain Madden/NEMS Daily Journal
SALTILLO – Commercial development has become a hot issue in Saltillo, as developer Jay Shannon and the Board of Aldermen and mayor have squared off in recent weeks.
It started in late June at a public hearing over a 105-feet by 210-feet strip of property near the Center City Market that is zoned residential, while the rest is zoned commercial. Shannon said if it were all zoned commercial, he could bring in another national retailer to the development.
“I live here for specific reasons: I came here for the town, for the ball games and because it is not like Tupelo,” said resident Lisa Leatherman at a public hearing. “I wanted my kids to be in the school here. I am all for progress, but sometimes the price to pay for that is too much.”
Following that, the boardroom full of residents clapped. About a month later, the board voted down Shannon’s zone changing proposal. Many in Saltillo’s leadership are gearing up for Shannon to bring the rezoning matter to a higher court, though Shannon has not said he would do that publicly.
Mayor Bill Williams said the board and he are not anti-growth, but rather, they want to encourage healthy, high-quality growth.
“We are not interested in growth for growth’s sake,” Williams said. “We want growth that is going to enhance the quality of life in our town – we are committed to that.”
Williams said as the city of Saltillo adds rooftops, there will be commercial development, but he admitted it would be slow.
“It is not something that happens instantly, particularly when you are located two miles from the largest retail shopping hub within a 100 mile radius, Barnes Crossing,” Williams said. “My vision is that the things that are built here are of a good quality and add value to the community – something that the citizens will be proud of.”
Adding sales tax revenue now would be a good thing, Williams said, but not at the expense of quality growth.
While Williams said he did not plan to turn Saltillo into Madison, he felt it was a great community to emulate.
“Madison is a good model because it is important for homeowners to live in a community where home values appreciate,” Williams said. “We don’t want home values to depreciate because it is a person’s biggest investment.”