By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – A second neighborhood plans to officially accept an added layer of regulation bureaucracy in exchange for added peace of mind as homes are repaired and rebuilt.
The City Council will likely approve a process to allow a five-member design review committee in Sharon Hills to decide whether to approve plans to repair or rebuild homes after a tornado damaged most residences in the neighborhood off North Gloster 10 weeks ago.
Prior to the vote today, a public hearing will allow supporters and detractors a chance to make their views known.
The neighborhood association representing about 40 houses, as did the Joyner Neighborhood Association, asked city officials to create a neighborhood conservation overlay district, a land use tool designed to protect neighborhood integrity.
Sharon Hills residents overwhelmingly supported by a 24-1 vote the idea of a design review committee of neighbors approving site and floor plans, full elevation drawings and related exterior materials list for construction and repair prior to property owners receiving building permits.
Most Sharon Hills houses damaged from the tornado won’t require demolition; however, residents fear the possibility of developers building investment houses that could lower property values.
Kathryn Rhea, Sharon Hills neighborhood association president, said property owners already have enough to handle with most of the area’s stately trees destroyed without having to worry about construction of misfit houses.
“Even though this may be cumbersome, we want to protect the integrity of the neighborhood the best we can,” Rhea said.
The council unanimously approved a similar type of overlay district for the Joyner neighborhood two weeks ago.
Both neighborhood associations voted to appoint three residents to serve on the design review committee for their area. Mayor Jason Shelton and the council member representing the neighborhood each pick someone to serve on the committee.
After six months, the council will decide whether to continue the overlay district.
“It will stay in place until the neighborhood decides to dissolve it,” Shelton said Monday. “If they decide to get rid of it, they can vote it out just like they voted it in.”
Residents of Bel Air, the third neighborhood association to consider a conservation overlay district, recently approved a version that includes streets with properties directly impacted by the tornado.
The council will hold a public hearing and vote on the Bel Air overlay district in the coming weeks.