HomeBusinessResidents voice concerns over proposed development in NW Jackson

Residents voice concerns over proposed development in NW Jackson

Five members of the Jackson City Council met with about 20 citizens of the town along with City Planner Stan Pilant and local property developer Joel McAlexander Tuesday night to discuss McAlexander’s plans for a piece of property in northwest Jackson.

The property is at the intersection of Pleasant Plains Drive and McClellan Road, across McClellan from Fellowship Bible Church’s main campus.

McAlexander and a couple of partners bought the property more than 20 years ago while he was involved in building a number of nearby developments.

“That spot was being used as a dumping site and was looking bad in the middle of that residential area, so we bought it and cleaned it up,” McAlexander said.

Ever since, the property, which is about three acres, has largely been left alone while natural vegetation has grown on the area.

“The only other use it’s had is a place for election campaign signs,” McAlexander said. “And there have been times when the signs that were placed there were just dumped in the property and we’ve cleaned that up.”

The meeting happened on Tuesday, March 19, because citizens in nearby neighborhoods were concerned about what they’d been hearing about plans for the property.

The City’s Planning Commission met earlier this year and approved McAlexander’s plans for the property, which included approving rezoning that space from residential to commercial.

The citizens in attendance largely disagreed with the notion because they didn’t see the point or need of having a commercial spot in the middle of a residential area when the commercial area of North Jackson begins less than 1.5 miles away.

There were also concerns about traffic in the area.

There are two schools on McClellan less than two miles away – Sacred Heart of Jesus and University School of Jackson. Citizens said driving down McClellan between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. during school is already essentially pointless because of the pick-up and drop-off traffic moving slowly on the road for both hours.

And while some in other neighborhoods might be able to access other roads to detour around those areas, one of the key detour routes is about be impeded when Pope School moves with its 1,200 planned students to Ashport Road and all the construction that needs to happen to that road and Old Humboldt Road begins over the next few years.

The commercial businesses planned for the property and the rezoning include a bank as a kind of centerpiece building for the property with other office/retail businesses for surrounding facilities with a common parking lot.

Of the approximate 20 who were opposed to the development, including some who were representing home owners’ associations for some of those nearby neighborhoods, there was one who did not oppose it.

“I don’t think the government or any citizen has a right to tell another person what he can or can’t do with property they own,” said Trey Cleek, who owns a home in a nearby neighborhood. “Do I worry about traffic and other concerns shared here tonight? Yes I do, but will they be that much worse than what we’re already dealing with now?

“I also admit if they were bringing less desirable businesses to the area like a bar or something like that, my support wouldn’t be as vocal, but I think each citizen should be able to do with their own property whatever they see fit to do it.”

The five Council members in attendance – Candace Busby (in whose district the property is located), Marda Wallace (who had the property in her district before it moved to Busby’s when district lines were redrawn two years ago), Frank McMeen, J.P. Stovall and Julie Holt were in attendance listing to the discussion and the concerns.

“I appreciate people from both sides of the issue being willing to sit down and discuss this to let us know their concerns either way,” Busby said after the meeting. “I also appreciate Stan Pilant talking with us too and explaining the process for the residents who wanted to know more about how all of this came about.”

The next step is for the City Council to vote on the issue. It was unclear at the meeting if it will be on the agenda for the next City Council meeting on April 2 or if it would get pushed back to May. Items for the agenda have to be turned in to Mayor Scott Conger’s office for his consideration by a week before agenda review for each meeting, which means this month’s deadline for the agenda was March 21.

Brandon Shields, jacksonpost.news

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