Proposed code closing in on final draft

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s new development code is entering the home stretch.
“We hope to have the final draft ready for the city council in January,” said B.J. Teal, director of development services for the City of Tupelo.
The current code dates from 1994. The new code, which has been under construction for about two years, is developed from the city’s comprehensive plan, which was adopted in 2008. It aims to be more business friendly and allows more mixed development.
“There’s more ranges of use instead of strictly separated zones,” city planner Pat Falkner said at the Dec. 3 hearing before the planning committee. “We need to grow more compactly, more efficiently.”
Among its features will be a points system, which has been used successfully in other cities, to give developers more flexibility.
After the council adopts the code, there will be a transition period as the development services department works to educate the public about the new code, Teal said. During that time, developers will be able to choose which code they will follow. Over the summer, likely in July, the transition to the new code would be complete.
Trouble with signs
At last week’s public hearing, concerns centered primarily around signs for business.
Cindy Hale of Red Door Antiques, Brad Ivy of Tupelo Farm and Ranch, and Will Troxler, a Tupelo business man, spoke about the confusion over temporary signs and banners and perceptions about uneven enforcement.
“It was very difficult to understand who is exempt,” said Linda Hale, who received a notice over the banner she uses to let customers know which days her business is open.
Nat Leathers of Dodge’s Stores challenged the proposed percentages for signs on business windows – set at 10 percent, and walls – set at 30 percent.
“I feel like we’re being penalized for having windows instead of walls,” Leathers said.
The new code does include changes that allow for broader use of temporary banners for businesses. Based on Leathers’ comments, Falkner said the development department will look at the concept of a total percentage of signage a business can have, instead of setting specific ratios for walls, windows and ground.
“We’ll write some draft changes and post them on the website,” Falkner said.
michaela.morris@journalinc.com