The first public access gate under Jackson’s amended gating ordinance has been passed, following a 6-1 vote by the Jackson City Council.
Recently, the council approved allowing the North Lake Homeowners Association to install a device on Kristen Drive.
Leaders with the association say installation could begin in September.
While North Lake is the first neighborhood to have a gate approved under new city guidelines, it likely will not be the last.
Three other homeowners’ groups have applied for public access gates, according to Director of Planning and Development Mukesh Kumar.
Rollingwood Beautiful Homeowners Association and the Messina Heights Homeowners Association have each applied for two gates, while the Village of Northpointe Homeowners Association has applied for three, he said.
The Heatherwood Area Homeowners Association is also seeking a gate, and was working on its application last week, according to board president Ann Fry.
“We’ve been working for years in the neighborhood to calm traffic,” she said. “I’ve been here for 20 years, and it’s been an issue all along.”
Heatherwood includes about 400 homes located between Old Canton and Ridgewood roads. Fry said motorists often use Heatherwood’s residential streets as cut-throughs between the two major thoroughfares.
The neighborhood hopes to install the gate on Briarfield Road near the intersection of Briarfield and River Thames.
The association has brought on landscape architect Brad Stringer to draw up plans for the gate, before submitting it to the city for approval.
The gating ordinance was amended last year, after Jackson stopped following the previous ordinance per the advice of the city’s legal department.
Under the amended measure, all applications for gates must go through the city’s site plan review committee and be signed off on by the planning director, before going to city council for approval.
Rollingwood was in the site plan review process last week. Neighbors there hope to install gates at Banyan Drive at Old Canton Road and Yucca Drive and Westbrook Road.
The spots are the subdivision’s main entrances.
“We submitted the application to the (committee), got their questions and concerns back and have since corrected them,” said association president Patrick Crews. “We expect to hear back from them in the next 10 to 15 business days.”
Among issues, the city had questions about how the Rollingwood gates would impact utilities as well as nearby fire hydrants.
Despite concerns, he said planning and zoning officials have been easy to work with. “They definitely did not make it hard. They wanted to make sure you understood the process,” he said.
Rollingwood Beautiful serves approximately 97 homeowners.
To be approved for gates, 75 percent of property owners in the affected area must sign a petition in support.
Despite some concerns about installation costs, maintenance and upkeep, Crews said Rollingwood met the 75 percent threshold.
Reason for that support varies. “Some say it’s traffic, some say it’s security, some say it’s property values,” he said. “There can be an argument from every side.”
Shirley Harrison, a North Lake resident, told the city council her neighborhood needed gates specifically as a “means of calming the community.”
“(Motorists) come through the community as a sole purpose of a shortcut,” she said. “We have children on these streets, where parents won’t let them come out and play because they’re afraid they’ll be hit.”
She said a nearby neighborhood has speed humps, which have helped. However, requests to get speed humps on Kristen have fallen on deaf ears.
“We tried to get speed bumps for the last 10 to 15 years, and we didn’t get (them),” Harrison said. “(The gates) will not keep out anybody. They’re just slowing down traffic.”
The gates were discussed at a public hearing on July 17. No one spoke in opposition.
Voting in favor of the measure were Council members Ashby Foote, Virgi Lindsay, Melvin Priester, Charles Tillman, De’Keither Stamps and Aaron Banks.
Opposed was Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes.
Public access gates have sparked debate among residents for years. Supporters say the devices increase security and slow traffic, making streets safer for walkers, joggers and the like.
Detractors argue the gates help create a closed society.
Unlike private gates, though, public access gates do not require a special code or a key to open. Rather, motorists simply must drive up and wait for the devices to open. The gates calm traffic by forcing motorists to stop. Similarly, burglars don’t like the gates because they prevent quick getaways.
The Villages at Northpointe hopes to install gates at three locations: Northpointe Parkway at Old Canton Road, Northpointe at Plantation Boulevard and Waterford Drive at Northpointe Drive