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By ANTHONY WARREN,

Established overlay districts proving successful for Jackson.

Eastover residents continue to enjoy their large yards and dense tree canopies almost eight years after an overlay district was expanded in the area to protect them.

The Eastover Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District (ENCO) was expanded to include all of the neighborhood in late 2011.

ENCO’s second subdistrict prohibits residential lots of less than an acre in size, a rule that is more restrictive than the neighborhood’s R-1A (single family residential) zoning classification.

Despite the restriction, residents there support it, because it ensures that the neighborhood’s natural surroundings will be protected for years to come.

“Without (the overlay), we would not have a means to address our subdividing concerns,” Greater Eastover Neighborhood Foundation (GENF) Executive Director Dana Robertson said.

ENCO is one of several overlays in place across the Northside, an example of how districts protect property values and allow for land uses that go beyond typical city zoning rules.

In Jackson, overlay districts include ENCO, the Fondren/North Sate Street Overlay District and the High Street overlay district. Ridgeland has four, one along West Jackson Street, at the Township, in the Northpark area and at Renaissance at Colony Park. And in Madison there are one each in the Sundial and North Livingston communities.

Overlays don’t do away with an area’s underlying zoning. Instead, they are placed on top of existing zoning rules to provide greater restrictions or uses that would not otherwise be allowed under the zoning.

In addition to requiring a larger lot size, ENCO also provides additional architectural guidelines.

Neighbors there petitioned Jackson leaders for the protections years ago, after they noticed several lots being subdivided to build zero-lot-line homes.

Eastover is zoned R-1A, which requires parcels to be 10,000 square feet or larger, or a roughly a quarter of an acre. Many lots in the upscale neighborhood are an acre or more in size.

With little vacant land in Northeast Jackson, some builders were eyeing the area’s larger lots as one of the main areas for new development. Prior to its passage, several patio homes had been built in the community, which some neighbors said took away from the area’s charm.

ENCO’s second subdistrict covers approximately 400 homes from north of Meadowbrook Road to the Petit Bois neighborhood in the south. In the west, it’s bordered by Ridgewood Road and to the east, it’s bordered by city-owned land along the Pearl River.

The first subdistrict takes in seven homes in the 4000 block of Eastover Drive.

Since its expansion, no additional lots have been subdivided. However, a few architectural exceptions have been granted to homeowners, Robertson said.

Among those exceptions, one homeowner asked for permission to build a garage facing the street. The overlay requires garages to be oriented away from the street, but the garage couldn’t be because the way property lines were drawn, Robertson explained.

“The city ... places the oversight and the enforcement of the ENCO district on the neighborhood,” she said. “We make every effort to make the process as efficient and friendly as possible.”

Like in Eastover, residents in Sundial also wanted their large lots protected. Once the area was incorporated by the city of Madison, the mayor and board approved an overlay requiring a minimum residential lot size of three acres.

Sundial’s districts also allow for residents there to keep horses, while homeowners in North Livingston are allowed to keep livestock, said Director of Community Development Kianca Stringfellow.

Stringfellow said the communities have had no problems or no requests to repeal the districts since they were implemented.

The Renaissance at Colony Park Overlay District is the newest, having been passed in early 2018.

Developer Andrew Mattiace petitioned the Ridgeland mayor and board of aldermen to create the district in early 2017.

The district runs from just south of the 300 Renaissance Building in the north to Old Agency Road in the south. East to west, it runs from the I-55 frontage road to Highland Colony Parkway.

It allows several amenities at the Renaissance that would not be allowed under the area’s MU-1 zoning ordinance, including an upscale movie theater. Under Ridgeland’s zoning ordinance are only allowed in areas classified as C-6, or regional shopping mall districts.

Farther south, in Fondren, an overlay district was enacted years ago to help revive one part of North State Street, while at the time create a bridge between the Fondren Business District and the commercial corridor at Meadowbrook Road.

The district runs one lot deep along North State Street and allows for mixed use, commercial and residential.

“It was residential and we were trying to bridge the area between the two business districts,” said Jim Wilkirson, former executive director of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation. “The overlay allows for mixed use, meaning you can live on the top floor and work on the bottom.”

Wilkirson said the mixed-use designation was perfect for the area, which was sandwiched between two busy commercial corridors and characterized by heavy traffic.

“When you look at a major corridor, it hard for residential to be a stabilizer,” Wilkirson said. “The traffic made it harder to be a residential street.”

The overlay has apparently paid off. Many former residences have been converted to businesses, while others have studios, salons or offices on the first floor and dwellings on the second. “You see a lot of businesses, and people working and living in the same building,” Wilkirson said. “It’s been a positive thing.”

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