Jackson citizens who want to express their views when a neighborhood seeks permission to install public access gates could have an avenue earlier in the process to do so.
An amendment to the city’s gating ordinance, if approved, would provide citizens an opportunity to speak early in the process instead of waiting to when the City Council considers a request.
Jordan Rae Hillman, director of planning for the city of Jackson said she is working on the final draft for a revised gating ordinance. The ordinance, which was updated in September 2017, dates to May 2016 when it was introduced.
“We will in the next few weeks be having a committee meeting to review a revised gate ordinance.,” she said. “I am still working on the final draft, so it hasn’t been shared yet.
“We are revising the community engagement process for gating. The original ordinance lacked mechanisms for neighbors to engage during the process and placed the engagement solely at public hearing for adoption. The new ordinance will provide engagement opportunity at the beginning of the application process so that information is shared early and accurately.”
The council approved on Oct. 13 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.