A variance request for ground-level apartments at two downtown properties died before the city board on Tuesday on concerns about the potential consequences of making an exception.

R. Wayne Henry sought a usage variance to allow first-floor apartments at 614 and 620 Cruise Street. Retail space would remain at the front of the properties with the apartments being at the rear and out of view from the street.

The properties are zoned C-3 Downtown, which specifically prohibits ground-floor apartment units. The Board of Aldermen voted 4-2 to deny the variance, with Chris Wilson and Chip Wood casting the dissenting votes. The city’s board of adjustment had recommended denial of the variance in a 3-1 vote.

Wilson made reference to another disagreement two years ago over a variance request for storage units downtown.

“This will be another million-dollar investment that’s going to be shot down,” he said.

Alderman Michael McFall said his concern is making isolated changes.

“I just don’t think you make specific variances for one little spot when everything else is going to adhere to the codes,” he said. “All of these other people have invested their money based on what’s on our codes and based on us adhering to it.”

A couple of people expressed the opinion that retail space needs to be preserved as the downtown continues to see revitalization.

“We’ve worked so hard to get downtown where it is, and Cruise Street, in particular, is one that is finally taking off,” said Main Street Corinth Director Angela Avent.

Others said “spot zoning” creates a slippery slope potentially leading to other requests.

In another matter related to zoning, the board gave approval to two requests from Robert Williams for eight properties at the intersection of East Third Street and North Madison Street where single-family homes are planned. One request revises the lot lines to create more equal lots, and the other allows for yard setback variances.

Plans for the development will also go to the new overlay district panel for review.

In other business:

The board voted to appoint Mary Katherine Jones to the tourism board seat being vacated by Vicki Vanderford. It is a joint appointment, and the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors took the same action on Monday.

The city is getting ready to resume drainage ditch spray maintenance and accepted a quote from ChemPro of $22,932 to apply herbicides to help keep vegetation under control along the banks of the ditches.

In property cleanup, the board scheduled public hearings for the Nov. 2 meeting for 1721 Droke Road and 207 Sharp Street.

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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