Summary of City of Brandon Work Session & Board Meeting on Feb 22nd 2022

March 9th 2022, BRANDON MS –

City of Brandon MS Work Session and Board of Aldermen Meeting on Feb 22nd 2022:

Attendance: All Board Members were present.

Per the Work Session, at 5pm, Mayor Butch Lee discussed the upcoming water rate increase. He indicated that citizens will not actually see the increase until their June 2022 bill. At that point, billing will be by the gallon. It’s believed that Brandon will be the first city in the state to bill water by the gallon.

The water rate increase will be 2%, on the water portion of your bill. For a home that uses approximately 2700 gallons of water, this 2% increase will be equal to approximately 72 cents ($0.72).

Another part of your “water bill” (it’s actually a utility bill) is West Rankin Utility Rate. This is calculated annually, in arrears, based on our city’s percentage of flow (other cities, including Flowood, Pearl, and Richland are also in the West Rankin Utility group).

Garbage is also a part of of the city’s utility bill. Flowood, Brandon, Pearl, and Richland all use the same garbage vendor and work together to put an out RFP (Request for Proposal), in an effort to get the best rates possible. Those 4 cities make up 50% of Rankin County’s population. The group of 4 cities entered into a 4-year contract for garbage pickup, which includes escalators for fuel costs. Mayor Lee broke down the cost of our garbage pickup as $1.13 per event (per pickup). Per the new contract, the cost of such will be $2.22. This is essentially the cost per trip, for the garbage vendor to bring their truck and staff to your home, pickup your garbage, and take it away.

The new water rates and the new “by the gallon” billing will go into effect for the April 15th 2022 through May 15th 2022 billing, which residents will see on their June 2022 bill. This was fully disclosed in the Work Session on this day, in preparation for the Board of Aldermen to approve such at the 6pm Board Meeting that same evening.

The next item the Mayor discussed during this Work Session was the recent medicinal marijuana bill passed by the state.

The next item during the Work Session addressed allowing liquor stores inside the city limits of Brandon. The Mayor showed pictures of liquor stores from a neighboring city, and encouraged the Board to make sure the city has proper ordinances in place in the event liquor stores are voted upon by the Board. Mayor Lee offered examples of ordinances from the following cities to the Board, for their review: Vicksburg, Clinton, Brookhaven, Corinth, as well as Brookhaven GA. Mayor Lee asked the Board to provide direction on what the Board may want, and when the Board may want it. Alderman Harry Williams asked City Attorney Mark Baker if there was an initial draft of a possible ordinance for the Aldermen to review. After some discussion, it was agreed upon that Mr. Baker would send the Aldermen a working document the following day, which the Aldermen may review and then make suggestions upon. This information and exchange is available for review in the archived livestream of the Work Session at about the 17:30 minute mark. Mayor Lee then explained that the process of considering liquor stores also includes discussion with the Planning Commission.

Mayor Lee then discussed the following tentative timeline for the process of considering liquor stores (approx. the 20 minute mark):

  1. March 28th 2022 – Meet before the Planning Commission
  2. April 4th 2022 – Public Hearing by the City of Brandon
  3. May 2nd 2022 – Regularly scheduled Board of Aldermen Meeting, with potential vote to approve or decline to approve liquor stores.

City Attorney Mark Baker also explained to the Board, regarding medicinal marijuana, that the Board may choose to opt out of any combination of the following:

  1. Cultivation of medical marijuana
  2. Dispensing of medicinal marijuana
  3. Testing of medicinal marijuana

Mayor Lee then discussed a proposed mural for the side of a restaurant building in the Historic Downtown Brandon. Aldermen Harry Williams asked Community Development Directory Matt Dodd about other signs and/or art in the downtown area.

Mayor Lee then discussed billboards in the city, indicating there are currently 12 billboards inside the city. He suggested a tweak in the current billboard ordinance, to allow a little more discretion by the Board.

Mayor Lee then discussed pricing changes in materials and how it may affect future projects by the city, while explaining there may be a sense of urgency in getting future projects completed as soon as possible. He then discussed improvements to traffic signals along Hwy 80 through Brandon.

At about the 32 minute mark, Mayor Lee provided a bit of an update and discussion on electric vehicles and prospective project to add electric charging stations in the empty lot next to Taco Bell, near the downtown exit of I-20.

Next up during the Work Session was Mayor Lee explaining a couple significant residential fires in the city, as well as the importance of “completing a loop” with our city’s water mains, so water may come from more than one direction to neighborhoods. Mayor Lee then discussed several more projects that will soon be occurring in the city.

Mayor Lee then discussed a resolution for the Board to consider, to show support for a possible new Sunset Limited train route that may come through Brandon and Pearl at some point in the future. The route would likely be from Meridian, through Brandon and Pearl, on to Dallas TX. After that, he discussed registrations from teams with Parks & Recreation. Next discussion was adding bike paths and jumps as part of the master plan for the Quarry Trails.

At about the 45 minute mark, Mayor Lee discussed Rail Trails, as well as preserving historic areas and aspects of our community. He then explained that he believes there’s more to the old Brandon railroad than many first believed. He explained via a geological survey map that there are actual remains of Illinois Railroad near Marquette Road. He indicated there are remnants of hand-built portions of the former railroad, which he believes should be preserved. As such, Mayor Lee would like the Board to consider a resolution to deem the area as historic to provide protection, preservation, and enhancement of the former Brandon Railroad Line. He envisions a nice path along this line, to Quarry Park. Property ownership of this area includes a portion owned by Rankin County. The initial conversations with Rankin County involve the county considering a garbage transfer facility at the location. This garbage facility at this location would involve garbage from outside the City of Brandon (from areas in the county), to off-load from trucks to other trucks. The City of Brandon has its own contract with Waste Management for garbage. As such, the garbage that may potentially be temporarily located in this area would not come from Brandon. The Mayor then asked that the Board, at the following Board Meeting, approve action to preserve this property via the historic preservation declaration.

This concluded the Work Session.

Shortly after the Work Session ended, the regularly scheduled Board Meeting began, at 6pm CT.

Attendance: All Board Members were present.

The Invocation was provided by Anna Blacksher, with the Mayor’s Youth Council. Afterwards, the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Dylan Chapman, also with the Mayor’s Youth Council.

Public Comments – 7 people spoke during the public comments portion of the Board Meeting:

• Mayor Lee recognized the Brandon MS Boy Scout Troop #29, where were attending the meeting as part of their merit badge program.
• Kathy Strahan – Spoke in favor of the City opting out of the Medical Cannabis program.
• Joe Oaks – Spoke in favor of opting out of the Medical Cannabis law and presented three letters from local pastors in opposition of the program.
• Ben Luther – President of Cornerstone HOA expressed concerns regarding Grants Ferry Station subdivision as proposed.
• Johnny Beck – VP of Centre Point subdivision expressed concerns regarding Grants Ferry Station subdivision as proposed.
• Martin Keil – Expressed concerns regarding the Collier Crossing subdivision as proposed.
• Mayor Lee – Announced the Krewe DeRoux Festival this weekend.

After the Public Comments portion of the Meeting, the Board adopted a resolution, per previous discussion during the evening’s Work Session, in support of the Southern Rail Commission’s efforts to reestablish passenger rail service from Meridian to Dallas TX, along the I-20 corridor.

Also per discussion from the earlier Work Session, the Board adopted a resolution in support of the protection, preservation, and enhancement of the historic Jackson / Brandon railroad line located in Brandon. Shortly after, the Board authorized advertisement of bids for the addition of box seats at the Brandon Amphitheater. These items were approved by the Board by unanimous vote.

City Clerk Angela Bean then presented several items for the Board to consider, including a couple contracts for music act at the Brandon Amphitheater, sponsorship agreements for the Brandon Amphitheater, and authorize repairs of an AC unit at City Hall. These items were approved by the Board by unanimous vote.

Community Development Director Matt Dodd then presented several items for consideration:
• Adoption of an Ordinance to amend the boundary lines of the Downtown Brandon Arts and Entertainment District. This item was approved by unanimous vote of the Board.
• Consideration of approval of the Grants Ferry Station Subdivision Preliminary Plat – This potential new subdivision would be developed near Cornerstone Subdivision, off of Grants Ferry Road, and would offer the following:

309 total lots
50 Lots – 1,600 sq ft minimum to 1,700 sq ft
83 Lots – 1,700 sq ft – 1,800 sq ft
114 Lots – 1,800 sq ft – 2,000 sq ft
62 Lots – 2,000+ sq ft

The TND (Traditional Neighborhood District) zone’s minimum square footage, which is the zone applicable to this development, is 0 (zero, or unstated).

Mr. Dodd provided some explanation and clarification of a few items related to this item. He stated that the current zoning ordinance was adopted in March 2016, and there may be some confusion regarding the minimum square footage for homes in Brandon. He further explained the following:

Many believe the City of Brandon has an 1,800 square foot minimum for houses. As Mr. Dodd explained, the City has the following square foot minimums:
R-12 District – 1,800 sq ft minimum
RR District – 1,500 sq ft minimum
R-8 District – 1,600 sq ft minimum
RM-8 District – 1,600 sq ft minimum
RM-4 District – 1,400 sq ft minimum
RH District – 1,400 sq ft minimum
TND (Traditional Neighborhood District) The vast majority of undeveloped land in the City of Brandon is TND. There is no square foot minimum in this district, which may be subject to approval by the Board.

NOTE: CLICK HERE for Brandon Zoning District information on the City of Brandon website.

The developer for this project, Mr. Kelli Foster, then addressed the Board. According to Mr. Foster, this would be development #18 of his, as he provided a brief list of other projects he has completed. He then explained that he has amended the details of the development from a previous Board Meeting, and the potential sale prices of the proposed homes. Per Mr. Foster, the minimum sale price of a small home in this development would be $320,000.

After Mr. Foster spoke, Mayor Lee provided some insight regarding neighborhoods and minimum square footage. Alderman Sharon Womack then made a motion to table any vote on this item until the Board can schedule a Work Session between now and the next Board Meeting to further discuss. Her motion was seconded by Alderman Jarrad Craine. This prompted some discussion amongst the Board Members, as well as more discussion from developer Kelli Foster. Alderman Womack’s motion then went to a vote, which passed via a 4 to 3 vote. Aldermen Womack, Craine, Dobbs, and Coker voted for the motion, while Aldermen Middleton, Williams, and Vinson voted against the motion. Motion carried.

Consideration of approval of the Collier Crossing Subdivision Preliminary Plat – This potential new subdivision would be developed off of College Street, south of Downtown, toward Hwy 18. The developer is Mr. Kelli Foster, the same developer as the aforementioned Grants Ferry Station Subdivision. This neighborhood would be built in TND zoning and consist of 98 lots on approximately 35 acres.

98 total lots
20 Lots – 1,600 – 1,700 sq ft
25 Lots – 1,700 – 1,849 sq ft
28 Lots – 1,850 – 2,000 sq ft
25 Lots – 2,000+ sq ft

It was mentioned that approval may be subject to a traffic study, to measure impact to the area. Mayor Lee then asked the Board if they would like to move this item to the aforementioned future Work Session, so it may be discussed at the same time as the proposed discussion regarding the Grants Ferry Station Subdivision proposal. Alderman Cris Vinson then made a motion to deny consideration of the item, thus denying the development of the subdivision. He stated that he would not be in favor of moving this item to the future Work Session, as he is not in favor of the subdivision at all at this time, primarily due to the amount of traffic it may put upon College Street, which is already congested at times during the day. Developer Kelli Foster came back to the podium to address Alderman Vinson’s concern. After some open discussion, Alderman Womack attempted to make a motion to move this item to the future Work Session. Mayor Lee then pointed out that a motion was already on the floor, per Alderman Vinson, to deny the application of the development. Alderman Harry Williams seconded the motion. Mayor Lee polled the Board regarding the motion. He then announced there were 3 votes to support the motion (to deny the application), and 4 votes against the motion. This action put the development back for consideration.

Alderman Womack then made the motion to move this project to the future Work Session, to be discussed at the same time as the Grants Ferry Station project. Before a second to the motion could be heard, developer Kelli Foster said he would like to make a statement, which was granted. Mr. Foster then said he has a shopping center project here in Brandon and would like to focus on that, while formally withdrawing his application for the developments of Grants Ferry Station and Collier Crossing. Mr. Foster thanked the Board for this time, and said he would “tackle” his smaller projects here in Brandon. In doing so, this eliminated the need to have the planned Work Session to discuss the Grants Ferry Station development.

Public Works Director Charles Smith then presented 5 items for consideration by the Board. The items were approved by unanimous vote of the Board. Mr. Smith then presented 5 more items for consideration. These items were also approved by unanimous vote of the Board.

Police Chief William Thompson presented 4 items to the Board for consideration. These items were approved via unanimous vote by the Board.

Fire Chief Brian Roberts presented 4 items to the Board for consideration. These items were approved via unanimous vote by the Board.

Alderman Sharon Womack made the motion to consider the need to go into Executive Session, which was seconded by Alderman Vinson. Upon unanimous vote, the motion carried.

Executive Session began. Upon returned from Executive Session, Mayor Lee announced the result of a vote taken while in Executive Session, which was to reject an offer dated Feb 21st 2022 to settle the Gold Coast lawsuit.

The meeting then adjourned.

Minutes to this meeting, CLICK HERE.

Archive of Livestream of this Work Session and Board Meeting, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE for Zoning Regs on the City of Brandon website.