In 2003, the Mannsdale-Livingston Heritage Preservation Overlay District was established with the goal of preserving the integrity of the Mannsdale-Livingston area of the county along Highway 463. This enacted county zoning section includes restrictions on what can be built in the area, which includes the Chapel of the Church of the Cross which was built in 1948.
A potential and preliminary Fleetway market entering the region has raised concern among the religious community and those around it, as many believe it violates the region’s zoning laws.
Ellen O’Neal is a retired county government lawyer and sacristy member. She has been heavily involved in the movement against the entry of Fleetway Market into the area, which, if approved, will stand opposite the church, believing it would undermine the historic integrity of the area.
“If you look at the original purpose of Article XIX, it lays the foundation for it, and we couldn’t have used better language ourselves to explain how important this area is to the county and to the State in terms of history, ”says O’Neal. “Any building constructed in the region must first go through a council of commissioners which has been set up via the overlay. ”
Any new building or construction must first go through the overlay district council of commissioners and then through the county planning and zoning commission – both of which will be advisory – before anything reaches the board of supervisors. of Madison County. Article XIX is the zoning section dealing with the area and states that “gas stations and convenience stores are not permitted except in the corridor of Highway 463 within 500 feet of Highway 22”.
“The folks at Fleetway argued that they should be able to do it because they call it a general trade store,” O’Neal said. “Zoning bylaws no longer have the words ‘general store.’ You can call it whatever you want, but today’s regulations make it very clear that a convenience store and gas station are not allowed in this area.
However, O’Neal said county attorneys have told the Overlay District and the Planning and Zoning Commission that Fleetway is licensed under zoning bylaws with a legal basis that has yet to be disclosed. to the public.
“The bylaws are really very clear to me that they can’t do it and the county just insists they can,” O’Neal said. “We hope to get a lot of public support as it will go up to the Madison County Board of Supervisors to make the final decision.”
Despite the controversy over banning Fleetway as a convenience store or gas station, county sources said Fleetway was not a zoning issue, as it was by definition a commercial store. A commercial store is limited by square footage, there is no service element, and it is limited to four fuel pumps. County sources said it was truly a commercial store, which was approved for 18 years under zoning ordinances because it does not specifically omit it, and nothing has changed since 2003, when it has been commercially zoned.
County sources also said this specific Fleetway will differ significantly from other Fleetway markets to be historically accurate, including the brick facade, the county appearance, an appropriate canopy over gas pumps and sky lighting. black as opposed to bright lights.
O’Neal said the church is primarily concerned with aesthetics, believing the Fleetway will “erase” the rustic, historic and rural nature of the area. However, they have other concerns, including structural damage and vandalism to the 180-year-old chapel.
“Someone from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History said that over time the weight and vibration of those tankers on Highway 463 will eventually collapse this 180 year old chapel.” , O’Neal said. “We are concerned about the structural damage to the chapel over time. ”
County sources said they were not planning any 18-wheeler activity at Fleetway other than those coming to bring fuel to the store to power the four licensed pumps. The sources said they did not see this to be any different from the already existing trucking activity on Highway 463 and Gluckstadt Highway.
Another concern of O’Neal is that once Fleetway is cleared into the Historic Area, it will open the door to other prohibited construction in the area.
“Once you set up a convenience store there, everything else is open,” O’Neal said. “You can’t do worse than this. If they’re willing to ignore it, then all the other things that aren’t allowed here will have an open door.
O’Neal said she adores Fleetway, that she even eats lunch there once a week, however, there is room for everything.
“I would like to tell the county that the county is the one that spoke about the importance of preserving the integrity of this area and, in my mind, it is like a wish to the citizens and to the community and to themselves” , O’Neal said. “20 years ago it was really easy to make all of these promises because there wasn’t a lot of development, but now the real test is when the development comes. Are they willing to put their money where they say it and stick to their guns and say, “No, we made a promise years ago? If they come back to it, nothing more about preserving an area they think is worth the paper it’s written on.
The Historic Area Overlay District was supposed to review the proposed Fleetway on Jan.10 for its advisory approval, but it was delayed until Feb.14. From there, it will move on to the Planning and Zoning Committee shortly thereafter for its advisory approval. Since these two committees only have advisory approval, the first formal decision can be made at the next available meeting of the Madison County Board of Supervisors.