Thursday, November 15, 2007
Vista cable selling
By SUE WATSON
Local cable television provider Vista III Media is moving to sell its cable system to MetroCast and is asking the City of Holly Springs to transfer its franchise, according to Mayor Andre’ DeBerry.
Holly Springs Utility Department Manager John Collins reminded the mayor and board of aldermen last week that pole attachment leases with Vista III Media will have to be looked at as well as any franchise transfer the city may contemplate.
DeBerry advised the board of aldermen that a review of the city’s franchise agreement with Vista III Media should include an audit before signing off on any transfer agreement with the two parties. He said the city should know if it has received all fees Vista III may owe the city, if any, as well as look at other considerations.
The board authorized a resolution to let LGS audit the system and make recommendations prior to any agreement to work with MetroCast if the transfer is made.
South side development
The board then took up three resolutions needed for the development of properties on the south side of the city - the South Holly Springs Traffic Plan and a $1.5 million TIF (tax increment financing) plan for undeveloped properties around the Highway 78 - Highway 7 interchange.
Revenue from the TIF Plan - about $1.5 million and existing earmarked funds would be used to develop an intersection at J.M. Ash Drive, according to Don Hollingsworth, director of public works. The city would extend J.M. Ash from Craft Street to West Boundary Extended, an as yet undeveloped street that will connect West Boundary to Craft and to the new business area now known as the Holly Springs Commons.
A traffic light would be installed at the intersection of J.M. Ash Drive and Craft would be widened into a five lane extending from just south of J.M. Ash to Highway 78 ramps.
The light and intersection is needed to ease traffic congestion in the strip and to allow safe ingress and egress of business and truck traffic from Holly Springs Industrial Park at Craft.
Bill Renick and Bill York with the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority were on hand at the board meeting to lend their support to the traffic plan.
“This project has been underway for some time and I have to say Don Hollingsworth and Bill York have done a wonderful job with a terrible problem,” Renick said. “The traffic problem at J.M. Ash is horrendous, but I believe the last design is exactly what needs to be done.
“The proposed development at the intersection in this South Holly Springs area and the Holly Springs Commons is much bigger than any industry we would ever attract to that area.”
Renick said the tax revenues from development in the high growth area should be good.
“I expect all buildings in the industrial park to be in use and we need this badly,” he said.
DeBerry said he favored putting $750,000 of earmarked dollars into the project in order to address traffic congestion and safety issues and the industrial park.
The city has plans for two traffic signals in the strip, one at J.M. Ash Drive and another at Crescent Meadows Drive (the Commons), Hollingsworth said.
He said all land that is available for development had been added to the comprehensive TIF plan.
Tax increment financing is a way to help pay for infrastructure development on the front end by helping developers with financing. The city pays the financing for the infrastructure off with new tax revenues that are generated in the years after properties are developed.
York said the TIF structure would help the city attract new businesses.
In the next order of business, developers Manny Burch and Jakie Hurdle asked to discuss curb and gutter and sidewalk requirements in subdivisions in high density construction versus large estate lots.
The city’s zoning districts and ordinances are now being revised.
Burch said large five-acre estate lots should not be required to have curbing and gutters or sidewalks. The costs to develop larger lots would be prohibitive if so much money had to be invested by developers on low density subdivisions, the two said.
“It is not feasible to put in a 500-foot curb and gutter and sidewalks on a frontage that size,” Burch said.
Alderman Nancy Hutchens said she could see giving a variance for vacant land but within the city limits others have been required to pay for curbs, gutters and walks to off-set the drainage control costs the city would incur with such development.
“If we give you a variance, I already know another fellow wanting estate lots,” she said. “Inside the city, I don’t know if we need to.”
Hurdle argued that Holly Springs is behind other rapidly growing areas like Olive Branch and Hernando.
“I don’t think we can put their regulations inside the city,” he said. “And we have a lot of land in Holly Springs available for estate-size lots.”
Hutchens said even estate lots will have drainage issues in the absence of curb and gutters.
Burch said he didn’t believe water would shed as rapidly on estate-size lots.
“And if anything, curbs and gutters will make water run (off) faster,” he said. “I just can’t see why I should have to put a curb down a state highway in order to be able to sell land,” he said.
Hurdle suggested the city have dual zoning regulations - one for small lots and other for larger farmland-type lots.
From a service point of view, areas with high density population and housing are more cost-effective for utilities, Hollingsworth said.
“The rule is don’t annex anything that’s going to cost you money in a city,” alderman Tim Liddy said.
Hollingsworth explained that utilities try not to have to provide a service line way out to a single house.
“If we do, we cannot ever recover the expense,” he said. “And the city should not be put in a position to put down a line and absorb the developer’s costs when once the line is laid the land will be developed.”
DeBerry said the city is striving to apply zoning regulations evenly and consistently; that once the city gives variances, residents do not understand the inconsistency.
“The only way to be consistent is to be consistent,” he said.
The mayor added that at some juncture the city and county zoning commissions should get together to bring consistency to the ordinances at the borders.
He added that the city does not want to saddle its hometown developers with excess expense “that will drive you somewhere else.”
Hurdle said subdivision lot sizes are reduced when curbs and gutters are put in - that to be profitable, developers cannot spend all their money on curbs and gutters.
Alderman Russell Johnson said he is neither for or against estate lots but would like to see the ordinances and statutes more flexible.
“We need something to entice people to come home to Holly Springs,” he said.
DeBerry added, “Until modifications (or ordinances) are made, we have to enforce the ordinances as they are.”
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