New code passes, CarMax can proceed

Tupelo stockBy Robbie Ward

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo City Council unanimously passed an updated development code and zoning map Tuesday designed to streamline residential and commercial development in the city.

An immediate impact of the council vote will be that Fortune 500 company CarMax can proceed with plans to open a retail location in the Barnes Crossing Overlay District, a move the council blocked in August.

CarMax had sued the city, but Greg Pirkle, a Tupelo attorney representing the company, has said the lawsuit will be dropped with the updated development code passed.

Some council members had tried to eliminate from the updated code a provision allowing used car dealerships to locate in the designated overlay district after existing used car dealers in the city complained that they weren’t granted permission to open in the overlay district a decade ago or longer.

This marks the first substantive change to Tupelo’s development code or zoning map since 1994. After the city adopted an updated comprehensive plan in 2008, efforts began to make the code and zoning map more flexible for developers.

“It means we’ll allow a lot more proposed use of land with a lower level of rejecting them,” said Tupelo city planner Pat Falkner. “People will get a lot more ‘yes’ answers than they have.”

Councilmen Jim Newell and Willie Jennings, both representing south Tupelo where many new and used car dealerships are located, encouraged Mayor Jason Shelton and other council members to pay attention to the needs of that part of the city.

Jennings said he felt the southern part of the city may be overlooked for new development.

“I want to see us come up with a plan for South Gloster as soon as possible,” Jennings said. “I want to be a team player, but I don’t want to be riding the bench all the time.”

robbie.ward@journalinc.