Tupelo orders removal of building

TUPELO – A man must demolish his new 3,200-square-foot structure after a City Council decision meant to send a tough message to developers.
That loud-and-clear message: Follow the law or face the consequences.
The council unanimously voted Tuesday to uphold decisions by the city Planning Committee and Development Services Department, ordering property owner Greg T. Smith to remove a metal storage building he erected without zoning approval, building permits or inspections.
Smith had asked the council to overturn the decision but didn’t attend the meeting Tuesday.
The building was constructed sometime between January and March. And according to city Building Inspector Patrick Reagan, Smith was told at least twice before construction what the city required, yet chose to ignore it.
The $55,000 structure is located in a residential area, and it fails to meet city codes regulating residential structures. To comply, Smith must either modify the building to conform to those codes or make it an accessory structure to larger house.
Failing to comply, the city Development Services Department ordered Smith to remove the metal building.
Smith appealed that decision in May to the city Planning Committee. He told the group he plans to build a 4,000-square-foot house on the land. But even that wouldn’t meet city code, which requires the size of accessory structures to be less than 35 percent the size of the house.
To meet code, Smith would have to build a 9,800-square-foot home on the wooded, 21-acre site.
Council members, who discussed the case Monday, seemed unsympathetic.
“I’m against people doing whatever they want to do without complying with the guidelines,” said Ward 5 Councilman Jonny Davis. “I have no desire to accommodate this person.”
Council members also said they wanted to send a message to others that the city won’t reward willful disregard of building codes and municipal rules.
But Ward 6 Councilman Mike Bryan said he felt bad for Smith and wanted to find a win-win solution.
“He said it cost $55,000 to build that structure,” Bryan said. “I’d hate to make him tear it down.”
Countered Ward 7 Councilman Willie Jennings: “If I were going to spend that much, I’d get all my ducks in a row first.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.

Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal