First community meeting under Jackson’s new gating ordinance set for Thursday night

First community meeting under Jackson’s new gating ordinance set for Thursday night
Public access gates will replace the brick marker at the intersection of Briarfield Drive and River Thames Road to slow speeders. Source: WLBT

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The first community meeting under the city of Jackson’s amended gating ordinance is Thursday, and some neighbors and city officials are eager to see how it goes.

Residents will be invited to comment on gates proposed for the Woodland Hills neighborhood in Fondren.

It is a requirement under the city’s amended gating ordinance, which was changed last year to ensure more transparency in the gating application process.

Dana Robertson, executive director of the Greater Eastover Neighborhood Foundation, said she will be watching the meeting to see how it goes.

“I don’t know that it impacts Eastover, but I am interested in the ‘community meeting’ format in preparation for Eastover’s meeting,” she said.

Eastover is also hoping to install gates and has submitted conceptual plans to the city under Jackson’s new gating code.

“I also want to support Holly Lange, Mary Alice White, and others who have worked hard on this for years.”

Lange and White are two leaders in the Woodland Hills area pushing for the gates.

The Woodland Hills Conservation Association applied for gates to be installed at the neighborhood’s entrances along Old Canton Road and Ridge Drive late last year.

WHCA, along with GENF had applied for gates under the city’s previous ordinance. However, both groups withdrew their applications after two contentious public hearings in the spring of 2019.

Under the previous ordinance, hearings were the last step in the gating application process. The city council was expected to vote on the applications following that comment period.

That vote never happened, though, with opponents at those meetings telling the council they had never had a chance to comment on the plans prior to those gatherings.

Residents in the East Manor neighborhood said one gate proposed by GENF would have blocked a major entrance to their subdivision.

Meanwhile, some neighbors in Woodland Hills said the gate planned for Ridge Drive would have separated three Woodland Hills homeowners from their neighborhood.

GENF and WHCA withdrew their applications instead of risking having the city council voting them down.

More than a year and a half later, in November 2020, the council approved amending its ordinance to address concerns brought up at those hearings. Among changes, the council mandated that a public comment period be held early in the application process, rather than at the end of it.

Additionally, neighborhoods must have a pre-application meeting with staffers from the city’s department of planning and development before the application can officially be submitted.

From there, a community meeting is held to gather information, and after that neighborhoods submit their official plans for the gates.

The application is then reviewed by the city’s site plan review committee to ensure the gates meet technical requirements. From there, the item is placed on the council agenda and a public hearing is held.

“We added the community meeting so that everyone had the opportunity to understand where the gates were proposed to go, who would be responsible for maintenance, and how the gates would work,” Ward Seven Councilwoman Virgi Lindsay said.

Woodland Hills is in Lindsay’s ward.

The councilwoman said it would be inappropriate for her to attend Thursday’s meeting, but said she’s encouraged that it is going to happen.

Said Lindsay, “When the application (makes it to the council), hopefully, there will be a clearer understanding among all of those affected.”

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