Friday, February 22, 2013

Editorial on the Overlay

The boundaries of the proposed Reservoir Community District ("RCD") include the majority of residential areas commonly referred to as "the Reservoir".  What happens within the RCD affects what lies without.  Therefore, the RCD is an important issue, deserving of thoughtful, civil discourse.  My home lies within the proposed boundaries, and since I have this platform, I offer my humble opinion.

If the issue is whether the Rankin County Board of Supervisors should create the RCD as proposed, the short answer is cautiously yes.  

Cautiously, because I feel the RCD is but a band aid for a quietly festering, and soon to be incurable, wound.  The residential infrastructure of many of our neighborhoods is crumbing.  The downturn in the housing market, combined with numerous other factors, have caused the caring and/or affluent to look elsewhere.  Instead of staying in the RCD, repairing and upgrading their homes for the long-term, they find a good deal on a brand new house in Flowood, Madison, or Ridgeland.  After their old home sits on the market for months, in move renters, or other persons without the incentive to repair or even maintain.  Like an infection, it slowly spreads until entire neighborhoods are left depressed and rotting.  

Three weeks ago, I was present when Rankin County Youth Court Judge Tom Broome was asked from what area of the county he saw most of his delinquency issues.  To my surprise, he answered without hesitation, naming three subdivisions within the RCD.  You'd be amazed what occurs there, he said.  

That was an eye opener, and if you don't see certain areas of our community rapidly falling into decline, you too are turning a blind eye.  

Neighborhoods like Mill Creek, without strong covenants, are teetering.  The good residents -- many of whom have lived there since the mid to late 1970's -- are either dying off or moving out.  Without legitimate covenants, Mill Creek residents are at the mercy of those moving in.  

Neighborhoods like Hidden Hills may think their strong covenants will protect them, but there is not much solace to be gained when surrounded by decay.  The City of Flowood is beginning to figure this out.  

A plain reading of the proposed ordinances indicate the RCD does not have much bite.  That should placate the detractors who fear another layer of governmental regulation/oversight.  The proposed ordinances do address glaring issues like pawn shops named after the adult entertainment industry and front yards used as RV parking lots; but other than that, the RCD will not have much, if any, affect on the rest of us.  Hence, a band-aid.  But it's a start.

Comprehensively, we have work to do to improve our school facilities, our roads, the quality and nature of the commercial establishments around our homes, etc.  Maintenance of aging subdivisions is just one part of the work. We face our challenges in the coming years, but no group is more resilient than Reservoir citizens.   I don't say all this to portray a bleak picture of the Reservoir.  We are blessed with outstanding churches, parks, scenery, law enforcement, educators and residents.  We are further blessed to have the City of Flowood and its progressive leaders acting as the welcoming committee for Hinds County.  If life was not great here, I would raise my family elsewhere.  

I repeat for emphasis, the RCD is a start.  Nonetheless, concerned citizens, don't think the RCD is the cure.  Continue to look for other options to maintain or improve the quality of life we enjoy in the Reservoir.  


Anonymous said...

I think the RCD is needed before it is too late. I urge you to attend the meeting on March 4 at 9:00 am at Rankin County Board of Supervisors Board Room or please send an email (re: overlay in the subject line) to to show your support.

Anonymous said...

It was the Rankin county supervisors that allowed the pawn shop, tattoo shop, and the loan shark biz to set up shop near our neighborhoods. Why would I trust this group to abide by another set of rules?
As far as “kid crime” in the Rez… fix it through law enforcement. What difference will a well-manicured sign-free lawn make? Better still - how about getting behind a business (s) that will offer these young people something to do for the betterment of the community or if nothing else, entertainment. Maybe that will cut the boredom a little, and reduce the mischief.
I fail to understand why these new ordnances cannot be amended to an existing set of ordnances already in existence in both Rankin and Madison counties, and the city of Ridgeland.
In any case this “RCD twist of words” is something that should be placed on a ballet for approval by the affected residents. And, any public hearings on the matter should be held in a manner suitable to the public. Not 9AM on a workday. I suggest the first motion in this March 4th hearing on the topic is to end the discussion and move the hearing to a facility closer to the Rez at a time more suitable to the majority.
Has sneaky written all over it.

Anonymous said...

Not exactly correct. The reason we have the tattoo parlor and pawn shop is that we HAVEN'T had the necessary laws to stop them. You are correct that a manicured yard won't stop crime, but an area that is declining breeds crime and attracts the people who commit crime. That is a fact, look around the tri-county area.

Anonymous said...

I know the covenants and neighborhood association in my subd has all but disappeared. We have rental houses with 14 people living in them, cars all up and down the street, etc. But we have some who take pride in their yards and houses, like me. I am torn over this. i don't want the residents of Castlewoods telling me how I can live in my neighborhood, but i don't want the deterioration that has already been going on for years.

If I could sell my house for a decent sum, I'd move out of the Reservoir District. Not that the district is bad, I just prefer not to be in a subdivision again.

The reservoir area is overbuilt with starter homes. The kind that give the developer quick cash that he can run with. Then a few years later, the cookie cutter started home 1200-1600sf start to crumble. There are only a few neighborhoods of intermediate home. This over population of starter / cookie cutter homes is part of the problem too. But a overlay district can't fix that!

Anonymous said...

There will always be 2 conflicting opinions about residential zoned areas. NUMBER 1. IT'S MY HOUSE, I will do what I want, be it change oil in my driveway or park by R.V. in the front yard. And DON'T tell me I cannot put a portable building in the backyard. To some degree, that has merit. HOWEVER....
NUMBER 2. Your house is next to my house and your trashy appearance makes the rest of us look bad. And that, too has merit. So, ..........

Anonymous said...

And this is exactly the problem. The area of Castlewoods I assume you live in (at the front closest to Lakeland) has never really had covenants, and thus the decline. You could sell your home for a decent sum if our property values quit sliding. Realistic, simple covenants do not challenge people like you who will keep their properties up no matter what. They are put in place for those who just don't get it for whatever reason. They simply refuse to comply with basic, excepted standards for community living. This Reservoir Community District will not be overly burdensome to someone like you, but they will address the very issues you yourself find unacceptable. We would hate to loose someone like you from the Rez area and I'm wondering what you think your choices are. . . Madison County, where I have no doubt the rules are much, much stricter, or out onto 50 acres in the middle of the county, where no one will tell you or your neighbors to clean up, but you may then be wishing someone would!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous 3:14PM

I don't live in Castlewoods. And I won't move to Madison. I read, with great detail and study, the covenants of Lake Caroline. Won't ever live there. I mow my grass and I work in my flower beds, but I also ride motorcycles and 4 wheelers and work on them in my driveway. If I leave, it will be somewhere further out in the county where I can have a shop building and my noise won't bother neighbors. I do worry about doing that, tho few of my neighbors do.

But since there is no line item veto and I won't be on the committee of volunteers who makes up the rules (or political appointees or however the committee is formed), I feel I have no voice.

I hope they work. I hope it helps the neighborhoods and property values. I guess only time will tell.

Anonymous said...

To 11:14 am,
You said "As far as 'kid crime' in the Rez ... fix it through law enforcement." Law enforcement is not the issue, they do a great job. The issue is the need for stronger consequences for 'kids' who commit theft, malicious acts, and burglary. When a 'kid' goes to youth court and is simply warned without spending some time in the detention center, that 'kid' may be the next one who breaks into your house or car or destroys or steals your property. That 'kid' needs to understand negative actions have negative consequences.

Anonymous said...

Regarding crime: My dad lives in Jackson (Heatherwood), which has an association where anyone that notices something suspicious can report immediately to the members. This also goes for actual crimes that have been committed, since you never hear about it unless it makes the news.

Anonymous said...

I worry that it is too late. The Rez is the Golden Goose for Rankin Co. property taxes. However, if there were a reappraisal for tax purposes in the district, the Supervisors would be foreced to raise taxes again. If they don't do something dramatic to protect property values in the Rez, they will kill the Golden Goose.

Anonymous said...

5:37 has come the closest to why the supervisors are even entertaining the notion of additional property laws. This is about money. First and last. Unkempt homes cost the county money, both in law enforcement and property values. The county will do what it needs to so it can protect its coffers.

This can't happen soon enough.

Anonymous said...

So has anybody felt the sting of the supervisors TAX increase?

Anonymous said...

There is truth to all comments on this thread.

The sad fact is: I never dreamed this would have happened to the Reservoir Community.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever felt the pain of losing 40% of the value of your home in a few years. We are in a situation where this could happen if we do nothing. Is this an answer to all of our problems, no, but this could be a positive first step.

Someone, please give a better solution. Sitting around doing nothing will not work.

Anonymous said...

If you wish the overlay to be approved please call Jay Bishop, Walter Johnson and Jarrod Morrison.