The Jackson City Council is scheduled to vote at its meeting on Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. at City Hall on amendments to the city’s gating ordinance that are meant to improve communication about the process and make it more transparent.
“The ordinance amendments being offered create the opportunity for early transparency and discussion amongst communities exploring gates through a required community meeting,” said Jordan Rae Hillman, director of planning for the city of Jackson.
“After the last applications, it was evident that there were major frustrations that information was not shared earlier in the process. We hope this will create a fairer process for those involved.”
Here are the proposed changes:
•A pre-application meeting with the city’s Planning and Development staff would be required before an application for the installation of public access gates is submitted.
•Conceptual drawing showing the locations of the proposed public access gates would have to be submitted to the Planning and Development Department before an application for the installation of public access gates is submitted.
•After conceptual drawings are submitted, the Planning and Development staff would provide written notice to proceed with a community meeting, where an applicant would share the drawings and gather input. The Planning and Development staff would be present at the community meeting to provide technical support.
•All property owners in the neighborhood would have to be notified by certified mail of the time, place and location of the community meeting at least 15 days before the scheduled meeting. All property owners identified by Planning and Development staff as directly affected by the gate outside of the neighborhood would also have to receive notice.
•A public notice sign with the time, date and location for the community meeting would have to be posted at all proposed gate locations for 15 days before the community meeting.
•During the community meeting, the conceptual drawings would be shared and the Planning and Development staff would keep a record of all input.
•Upon completion of the public notice and community meeting, the Planning and Development staff would provide written approval for the applicant to move forward and submit a formal application within 60 days.
The gating ordinance, which was updated in September 2017, dates to May 2016 when it was introduced.
In October, the council approved an amendment to the ordinance that adopted language from the International Fire Code to describe the accessibility and design standards for the gates and the ability of emergency vehicles to safely pass through during times of police and fire emergencies.
Eastover and Woodland Hills neighborhoods are waiting for their applications for public access gates to be approved. An application for Hillview subdivision is also in review.
In April 2019, residents sparred over gating proposals for Eastover and Woodland Hills. Opponents voiced concern that they did not have the opportunity to comment until the gating application was before the council, while supporters claimed they were at a disadvantage because they did not have a chance to refute testimony from opponents of gating.
Applicants must obtain signatures of support from 75 percent of residents in an area that would be affected by gating.
The current process for public access gates requires the completion of an application, submission of drawings and site plan review committee reviews. After comments and revision, the committee approves the technical aspect of the gate. Public notice is provided via signs and the newspaper.
The application is then forwarded to the city council for approval or denial of the gate. “This will be different after the ordinance is updated to include earlier community engagement,” Hillman said.
Public access gates, unlike private gates, do not bar individuals from entering a neighborhood. All a motorist must do is drive up, push a button or simply wait for the gates to open. The gates slow traffic by requiring motorists to wait before entering a neighborhood and are thought to deter criminals from making a quick getaway.