Did You Know: FRF’s Role in Zoning and Planning

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by Jim Wilkirson, FRF Executive Director

All issues involving proper zoning and permitting are important for us to understand, and as executive director of Fondren Renaissance Foundation I want to explain why these topics are critical to the vibrancy of our neighborhood. FRF works hand in hand on a daily basis with the city and its officials to ensure zoning and codes are maintained in keeping with our mission statement.

The mission of FRF is “to promote the preservation and revitalization of the greater Fondren community and empower its people, organizations, and neighborhoods to contribute to the economic growth, stability and quality of life in Fondren.” Our primary focus continues to be working daily for the betterment of Fondren; dealing with development, zoning, city matters, ordinances, master plans, neighborhood partnerships and other issues that arise concerning our community.

Our coordination in Fondren did not happen overnight. Our success is the result of the foresight of a group of committed and invested individuals who, over 20 years ago, came together to form an organization that would improve Fondren into the vibrant community it is today. These individuals infused new life and energy into Fondren through preservation, new development and urban renewal. That is how FRF came to be and our mission has remained consistent from the beginning.

One great example of forward thinking was the creation of the Fondren Overlay District. Twenty years ago, Jackson did not know what a “live/work zone” or “urban town center” was. But, through the combined efforts and partnerships, we have all learned how effective and energizing this type of zoning can be to the revitalization of an area. The sheer fact that Fondren has different zones that all allow for different types of uses is not by happenstance. In fact, it was very methodically laid out with much thought and expertise for growth – growth that could occur hand in hand with residential and commercial entities living as one.

Parking and private lots are one such factor in zoning and in some instances such as with The Yana Club, businesses are adding private parking lots within close proximity or adjacent to their properties.When properly placed and with the required and additional amenities such as landscaping, lighting and fencing, this not only allows for issues such as crowded street parking to be addressed and eliminated but also for area property values to be increased. It’s a prime example of how working and living together – business and residential – is healthy for the neighborhood.

One all-important requirement of this type zoning is the process of site plan review and this process allows for the coordinated efforts of the residential and commercial communities to come together so that they can live together harmoniously. Important issues such as parking, noise and hours of operation that are often times standard in some zoning areas are vetted during this process to allow for ideal community partnerships to thrive.

As some of you may know, a new establishment called Fondren Garage has been the topic of conversation during recent city council meetings. In this case, the proper procedures for site plan review were not implemented and had they been, this type establishment and the scope of what it offers would not have been allowed to exist within the zoning designation, the Fondren/North State Street Overlay District, where it presently exists and the exercise the city is now going through would not be happening.

It is through this oversight that we as a Foundation, you as a neighborhood, residents living on Patton and chefs/owners in the kitchens of the other restaurants are able to question the system because of the rules and regulations that were put into place so carefully years ago. It is unfortunate that this much investment was made and not properly vetted. Hours of operation, parking, outdoor activities, and noise accommodations – all of these things would have been addressed on the front end of this venture through the site plan review process.

Some may say our objections begin and end with Fondren Garage, and nothing could be further from the truth. The success of the Fondren area can be tied directly to the attention and care FRF has taken to ensure that businesses and residences are zoned properly. We have more commercial entities that work hand in hand with the residential community than any other area of the city. I know because we help facilitate this every day. The twenty-year long commitment of citizens must not be ignored. That is what we as FRF, working hand in hand with you, are here to defend.

Please consider supporting FRF. We support you – every day.

© 2016, Fondren Renaissance Foundation