The city commission listened to community member’s praise and concerns over the new Downtown Redevelopment plan during a public hearing held at the city’s commissioners meeting Thursday.
Five community members came forward to discuss the new plan.
Community members submitted mixed reviews to the commission regarding the plan, with one person speaking wholly in favor of it and one speaking totally against it.
The majority of the problems with the plan involved the road closure in front of the historic Harrison County Court House and concerns over parking spaces downtown.
One community member also addressed the ownership of the land in front of the court house and whether it is owned by the city or the county.
Community member Jerry Graves also addressed concerns over the structure of the arts district, and the fact that it leaves out the Visual Arts Center, the Michelson Museum of Art and other important artistic elements in the downtown area.
City Manager Mark Rohr addressed the group by stating that the plan would include more cumulative parking spaces for the downtown area then there are now.
“There is no way that this plan will affect parking with any downtown event,” Rohr said.
He did not comment on the ownership of the land in front of the court house or on the closing of the road running in front of it, but did advise community members to watch the original video of his presentation on the city’s Facebook page.
Rohr did say that the plan was not in its final stage, and is still growing and changing.
He said he hoped to continue to receive feedback from the community on the plan as it develops.
Also during the meeting the city addressed distribution of the year’s Hotel Occupancy Tax Funds.
Mallori James, the tourism and marketing director, presented the board recommendations for the HOT funds grants to the city commission, which they approved unanimously.
The approval of a resolution for the general election for city commissioner districts 5, 6 and 7 as well as a joint election agreement with Marshall Independent School District was also approved during the meeting.
The elections are scheduled for May 2 this year.
Also added to the election on May 2 is the special election for the reauthorization of the local sales tax that is set to expire.
The rate is set at 1/8th of one percent, and will go towards funding maintenance and repair of municipal streets.
Rohr stated that the authorization of the sales tax is a key component to much of the infrastructure plans the city has for the upcoming years, and without it 38 percent of the funding for these changes will be lost.
Three final ordinances were approved without changes during the meeting as well. An ordinance approving the special use permit for a day care center to be added to Pope Street was one of those approved.
An ordinance amending the official zoning map from a C-2 retail business to a C-3 general business was also approved for a property at 2009 E. Houston St.
The third ordinance approved was the addition of a definition for Light Fabrication/Manufacturing added to the city’s code of ordinances.
Commissioners also approved a schedule of the year’s city commission and discussed additional data collection from 2019’s Wonderland of Lights.