Wednesday, July 21, 2004
On Tuesday, July 13, the Jackson City Council approved a 180-day moratorium on building new apartments in the city. "This will give us time to work with the mayor's office, our legal department and city services to change the long-range plan for our city to one that works," said Ward 1 Councilman Ben Allen. The city zoning patterns have not been adjusted in 30 years.
The problem is, Allen says, that too many low-income apartment complexes have been built in city neighborhoods, leading to reduced property values for homeowners in some neighborhoods. He has cited North Jackson apartment complexes including Lochwood Place Apartments, at 5880 Ridgewood Road, as drains on property values in a past Clarion-Ledger story.
Allen wants communication and guidelines to be re-evaluated because, in the past, "we on the City Council were the last to know about new developments," Allen says. He cites weak communication between the city and developers, as well as unclear zoning ordinances that have led to the influx of low-income complexes—13 since 1998. Not only are some of the complexes themselves eyesores, but they also gobble up green space that many consider important for livable neighborhoods.
The vote for the moratorium was 4-1, and it will allow the city to "come up for air and evaluate the situation," Allen said.
Ward 3 Councilman Kenneth Stokes was the single vote against the move. He said that the city "must have places to give people an independent life and to raise their children." Many residents of Stokes' ward are both low-income and renters. Ward 4 Councilman Bo Brown abstained.
Allen, though, said that developers should also be rewarded for renovating existing stock. "The tax break advantage has been only on new apartments, this policy needs to change," he said. "Developers said they will welcome a tax break incentive on redeveloping current apartments."
The council and staff are taking the 180 days to evaluate construction zoning patterns throughout the city and, perhaps, to amend the zones. Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon said that the city needs to address the question of whether they are allowing too much construction in areas that can't handle it.
Allen tried to allay concerns of developers who might think that the government is trying to interfere with what they believe the market can bear. "The goal was not to interfere with any developments already underway, with funds, or starting construction," he said.
Deputy Director of Housing and Community Development Terri Lee said that there are presently four apartment complexes under construction in the city; the total combined units being constructed is 448.
The City Council included several exceptions to the moratorium: apartments in downtown Jackson; housing for the elderly, disabled, for those with AIDS; rehabilitation of existing complex complexes; apartments in the permitting process; and apartments in which an application has been made to a financial institution for funding.
This is sort of down the same line, but is a similar thing (in my opinion). I'm not in Jackson and all I know about this I heard from someone who does live there, but am wondering if y'all have heard anything about it. What I'm hearing is that curbside mailboxes are being put up without consent in neighborhoods that are mostly African American. I understand that written consent is required to change to curbside, but that the law is being ignored. Apparently a petition has been sent to City Councilman Crisler's stand-in, Betty Dagner Cook (while Crisler is in Iraq) who spoke to Postmaster Pat Campbell at the downtown branch. I was told he said they were not authorized by him and would be removed (but have not been removed). The residents on East Drive opposing these curbside mailboxes make the valid claim that curbside mailboxes are magnets for mail thieves, giving strangers easy access to their mail. It looks like a possible example of discrimination in Jackson by local post office officials looking to cut costs by making delivery faster, but only implementing it (illegally) where they think people have less power to complain and get something done to stop it. So, what's the scoop?
C.W., Interesting you bring that up. My residence had a curbside mailbox installed by the Post Office without notification several years ago. Things were fine until the box was installed. I've complained to the post master and have had no results. My mail has continued to be tampered with since then and I've about given up with a solution. I thought the Post Office would be interested in a federal offense being committed due to their poor judgement, but I guessed wrong.