Panola needs plan for state’s ‘most prime thoroughfare’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Panola needs plan for state’s ‘most prime thoroughfare’

By Rupert Howell
Planning professional Bob Barber told Panola County’s Land Use Commission that it’s about time toconsider a new 20-year plan with Panola’s growth and changes since the first one done in 1998.
Speaking to the commission during Monday’s monthly meeting at the Sardis Courthouse Barber also advised commissioners that they may want to consider a different set of regulations for the Highway 6/278 corridor between Batesville and Oxford.
Saying the corridor east of Batesville to Oxford is, “The most prime thoroughfare in the state of Mississippi,” he said if left alone it may well, “Turn into something not conducive for Panola County,” suggesting that “billboards wall-to-wall is the worst thing that could happen.”
“Left in its natural state, that’s likely what will happen,” he added.
Barber, who grew up in Panola County and currently resides in Desoto County, told commissioners Lafayette County is currently doing a comprehensive plan like Panola did in 1998.
“It would be a great opportunity for a coordinated effort to figure how that corridor should be developed,” Barber said adding that it was okay to have different standards for major thoroughfares.
The 20-year plan of which Barber referred was “Progress Panola” adopted by supervisors in 1998.
“It’s time to rethink to 2035. A lot of stuff has changed,” Barber noted.
Also attending Monday’s meeting were District One Supervisor James Birge, Donald Phelps from District Four and Sonny Simmons, executive director of Panola Partnership.
Commissioners had not recommended adoption of commercial codes recently, thinking the Partnership director thought it might be a deterrent to development.
Not so, according to Simmons who said although some regulations could be a deterrent, restrictions are needed to maintain integrity of growth.
Barber also suggested commissioners working closely with supervisors on nuisance property such as overgrown lawns, burned out or abandoned houses.
Barber explained the process which is similar to municipalities who enforce nuisance codes and said, “The cost of doing nothing is exceedingly high. Somebody is going to pay . . . the cost accrues to the people around it with diminishing property values.”
After learning that laws were already on the books to deal with nuisance property, Commissioner Wanda Carmichael proclaimed, “I say we ought to be ashamed of ourselves for not pursuing this sooner,” adding a full-time employee may be needed to enforce the law county-wide.
Carmichael and other commissioners were reminded the board of supervisors was the governing body who would actually have to take action against the offending property owners.
Commissioners sought to have Barber attend their meetings each quarter. He previously attended each meeting prior to budget cuts several years back. Commissioners meet on the second Monday of each month rotating between the two courthouses with the next meeting  set for the September 12 at 6 p.m. in Batesville.

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