A new neighborhood organization could result from concerns raised during a community meeting about erecting public access gates in Woodland Hills in Jackson.
“Gating is what spurred the conversation and started the discussions,” said Stan Flint, a Belhaven resident and lobbyist who is leading the efforts to establish what is being called the Woodland Hills Good Neighbors Association.
Some residents of the greater area felt left out of the process, said Flint, who doubts the small amount he is being paid to form the good neighbors association will cover his expenses.
Other residents opposed the idea of gating and yet others felt the process wasn’t followed as it should have been when the Woodland Hills Conservation Association (WHCA) applied for two public access gates, one at Old Canton Road and Glenway Drive and another at Wood Dale Drive and Ridge Drive.
The Woodland Hills Conservation Association ended up withdrawing its application after it realized the location of the gate and an island needed for a gate’s mechanism would significantly impact a resident on Glenway Drive.
The city ordinance about public access gates allows any organized neighborhood group to apply for gates, said Jordan Rae Hillman, director of planning for the city of Jackson.
A group has to petition property owners inside the proposed gate locations, she said, but that’s not all. A community meeting, which allows for the engagement of those who may not be in the gated area to express concerns, is also a factor.
Because the Woodland Hills Conservation Association withdrew its gating application, Hillman never made a recommendation about the gate locations to the city council.
“Based on the circumstances, I may have actually made a recommendation against the Ridge Drive location based on the input at the community meeting to the council,” she said.
Hillman said she hopes that “neighbors can be neighbors and work out things for a collective good and tackle true traffic calming together, but the city is not a position to force that.”
Hillman said she studied the plats of most neighborhoods in the Woodland Hills area and it’s complicated.
“Various lots identifying as WHCA nowadays are shown on multiple plats,” she said. “Many of those claiming to be original Woodland Hills are actually platted on later Cavalier and Old Canton plats.
“It’s not like modern suburban subdivisions. Plats and neighborhoods just kept going year after year and building on during that time period. They weren’t designed to identify as an exclusive section of this or that. Lots and streets were added sequentially as growth happened.”
Here’s how development occurred, Hillman said, according to the plats:
• Woodland Hills – August 1928 (Old Canton Road, Glenway, Woodland Circle, Woodland Drive and Ridge Drive)
• Canton Road 1 – March 1931 (Old Canton Road, near Crane Boulevard)
• Woodland Hills Addition – March 1947 (Ridge Drive, first four lots off Old Canton Road)
• Woodland Hills 2 – June 1948 (Avondale)
• Woodland Ridge Subdivision – June 1949 (Cowan Place)
• Cavalier 1 – May 1952 (lots on Wood Dale Drive, Crane Boulevard, and part of Cavalier Drive)
• Woodland Hills 3 – July 1952 (Montrose Circle, Montrose Court)
• Cavalier 2 – April 1953 (Cavalier Drive)
• Canton Road 2 – April 1951 (Crane from Wood Dale to Old Canton)
• Canton Road 3 – May 1951 (Cambridge, Greenwich and Nassau)
The Woodland Hills Conservation Association, established in1978, includes 61 houses: all of the households on Glenway, Woodland Circle and Woodland Drive; all of the households on both sides of Ridge Drive between the intersection of Ridge Drive with Woodland Circle and the intersection of Ridge Drive with Wood Dale Drive; and all of the households on the South side of Ridge Drive between the intersection of Ridge Drive with Wood Dale Drive and the intersection of Ridge Drive with Old Canton Road.
The Woodland Hills Good Neighbors Association hopes that technology can provide ways to deal with issues about security and crime so that neighborhoods can remain open and accessible to vehicles, walker, joggers and bicyclists, Flint said.
Automatic gates are an unnecessary hazard and create artificial boundaries, he said.
The Good Neighbors Association would like to be an organization to move Jackson forward, Flint said.
“We’re not just for one specific area but want to provide a vehicle for the greater Jackson to engage with city officials and others,” he said. “None of us are going to be safe, our property values aren’t going to be as good as they could be until everybody’s concerns and issues are given consideration. The biggest hope is that we can do something that isn’t limited to one area but takes a bigger view of how community and neighborhoods work.”
The Fondren Renaissance Foundation already covers the area Flint considers greater Woodland Hills. The foundation’s boundaries, which include a socially, economically and racially diverse area of about 2,500 residents and 200 small businesses, stretch from Woodrow Wilson to Northside Drive and from West Street to I-55.