Foote wants stricter rules for access gates
CHANGES being proposed to the city of Jackson’s ordinance allowing public access gates could make it harder for neighborhoods to get the devices installed.
Amendments to the city’s gating ordinance were introduced at last week’s city council meeting.
Among changes, applicants would be required to obtain 75 percent support from residents in the affected area, rather than 60 percent required under the previous ordinance.
The changes are being proposed by Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote, who said the amendments are designed to make the ordinance fairer to all - those who support and those who do not support public access gates.
“We’re making it more stringent, but we’re also doing away with things that get us tied up with red tape,” he said
The changes were introduced at last week’s council meeting. Additional changes are slated to be revealed at the council’s first meeting in March.
The council is slated to meet on March 7, at 10 a.m., according to the city’s Web site.
“I think (these changes) will provide a smoother process for neighborhoods to get gates, but also provide due process for others who do not want them,” Foote said.
Last year, the council approved expanding the city’s gating ordinance to allow more neighborhoods the option of installing the devices. Previously, only neighborhoods with one entrance were allowed to install them.
In addition to expanding the ordinance, the requirements to apply for gates were also changed. Under the new ordinance, petitioners applying for the gates had to obtain support of 60 percent of property owners in the affected area in order to apply.
That threshold will be going back to 75 percent. Other changes will speed up the application process. Proposals recommended by Foote will reduce the time the city has to decide on an application from 90 and 120 days to 60.
Foote, who was absent from last week’s council meeting, said he wants to propose other changes to the ordinance as well. The councilman was out of town last week and did not have the additional changes readily available.
He hopes the changes will be adopted without the ordinance going back into committee for further review.
Last May, the council approved expanding the gating ordinance. However, the city stopped accepting applications and returned to the council, saying the ordinance did not include “due process” for those opposed to gates.
Also, gates were being approved without all relevant departments knowing about the plans.
The legal department approached the council with its concerns in October, and the council agreed to temporarily put the ordinance on hiatus.
Foote’s proposal would amend the ordinance’s approval and appeals process, and require Jackson’s department of planning and development and planning board to sign off on the applications. Applicants and opposing parties would have the opportunity to speak before the planning board as well as the city council.
Public access gates have become a popular option for Northsiders who want to calm traffic and increase security in their subdivisions.
Unlike private gates, which shut off neighborhoods to through-traffic, public access gates only delay entry. Motorists must drive up to the gate, press a button or simply wait for the gate to open.
The theory behind the idea is that crooks looking for a quick getaway from a crime scene aren’t going to want to wait at a gate.
Additionally, with private gates, neighborhood associations must take up street maintenance, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars. The attorney general has ruled that with public gates, the local government can still maintain streets.
A copy of the ordinance can be found on the Sun’s Web site, at www.northsidesun.com.