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Hearing set on long-range plan

The vision for future development in Corinth is up for public comment.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will have a public hearing on the Envision Corinth 2040 long-range plan during the next regular meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Bob Barber, partner with Orion Planning and Design, will be present, and the draft plan is currently posted at envisioncorinth2040.com.

The consultants see much opportunity for the city.

"The community has so many assets," said Barber. "It's a quality community now that holds the potential to be a premier small southern town in the years ahead. Hopefully, the plan will help it get moving in that direction."

If the board votes to adopt the plan on Tuesday, the consultants will finish the process of revamping the municipal code over the next few months.

"The plan is that vision of what we want to do, and then the code is the blueprint of how we are actually going to do it," said Barber. "Ultimately, Corinth takes the bull by the horns, gears up its planning commission, reinvigorates the various partnerships, pulls out the plan and begins implementing the various provisions of it."

In addition to a detailed overview of the city, the plan, which was developed based on community input, identified five strategic planning focus areas that offer significant opportunity to achieve positive development outcomes using the planning principles of the Envision plan. They are also seen as areas that, when improved, will spur further improvement in nearby areas.

"There obviously are some places that are ripe for improvement and redevelopment in the city, and those are called out in the plan," said Barber. "Methods and concepts are provided as to how the city can develop and redevelop certain portions of itself in a better way."

The strategic planning focus areas are:

• Northwest Corinth infill — The city is already moving forward on this goal with the proposed sale of vacant city property on Polk Street between Third and Fourth Streets for residential redevelopment.

The idea is to create neighborhood renewal and generate new housing that is compatible with the neighborhood. Located in an aging neighborhood near the historic city center, it is considered a good example of numerous "infill" opportunities in the city.

• Shiloh crossing — The Shiloh Road and Harper Road intersection area is described in the plan as "one of the most unique neighborhood commercial nodes in the city." As a secondary shopping area for the northern neighborhoods, it is not as strong as it was prior to the rise of the intense development in the Highway 72 corridor, the plan states.

The plan suggests redevelopment as an attractive, mixed use (including housing) and pedestrian friendly center. Challenges would include fragmented ownership and funding for a green public amenity.

"It is very doable, and the market is there to do those kinds of things," said Barber.

• Corinth National Cemetery area — "The setting offers an ideal area for infill housing and redevelopment," states the plan. It notes the cemetery is surrounded by an aging neighborhood characterized by several deteriorating homes and vacant lots where homes have been removed.

• Tate Street downtown gateway — The Tate Street and Highway 72 junction was identified in the planning process as "the most important of the downtown gateways because of its strategic importance accompanied by its less than attractive condition." The vision for redevelopment includes adjusted signalization, an appropriate gateway landmark, adjacent new construction that is reflective of the most iconic architecture in the city, way-finding signage and lane adjustments.

The plan acknowledges coordination with other interests such as the Mississippi Department of Transportation will be required on such projects.

• Highway 72 corridor — The plan describes it as "an extremely large area of suburban sprawl of undefined or poorly defined development character. Large parking lots, inefficient site layouts and generic corporate and franchise building architecture are the dominant features and stretch for more than three miles."

The vision for the corridor includes retrofit of the highway as a boulevard with spot medians and reduced curb cuts. Redevelopment of properties would include ample landscaping in parking lots, low-impact environmental design and architecture that is distinctive to the city.

The revised city code will likely include measures to address the ways that large commercial parking areas contribute to flooding.

"So, we think about how do you code for a parking lot that absorbs water — that doesn't just run it off into the creek and make the flooding problem worse," said Barber. "It's a chain of connections in a city. It's like an ecological web — one thing impacts another — hence, the reason for a comprehensive plan."