Mayor and builders discuss future growth in Manila
Manila's future growth was the topic at an informal meeting Thursday afternoon. Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner and Councilman Tony Hawkins met with several local builders to discuss and share ideas on city improvements and preparedness for future growth.
Mayor Wagner asked the local contractors for input on how to prepare Manila for future growth and make the city more inviting to people wanting to locate in the town.
"Statistics show 80 percent of the people who move to a town make their decision the first time they drive through," Mayor Wagner said.
Mayor Wagner emphasized new jobs are coming to Mississippi County and Manila needs to be ready for controlled growth.
"It boils down to using our money wisely," Mayor Wagner said. "We only have so much money and we want to use it the best way for the entire community. We want your input. Where do you think we need to put our emphasis? We plan to do some paving. We will need to pave the new street around the swimming pool."
Discussion was placed on the importance of infrastructure, streets, utilities, etc.
Mayor Wager said with the Highway 18 widening from Manila to Monette and the Big River Steel should be finished by 2015.
"I think there will be a need for middle price homes," he said.
They all discussed guidelines for regulating mobile homes and apartment complexes with ordinances and zoning.
The builders said they did not have any problems with zoning or ordinances but they did ask for the consideration for the city officials to give a lead way on variances for the older, small lots in the city limits.
"We could build a good looking smaller home on some of the lots if we could get a variance," Junior Wise said.
Several of those attending commented they wanted everyone to be treated fairly. They also agreed the ordinances in place and any that are approved need to be enforced for everyone equally.
They also discussed what the city does as far as utilities and streets for new subdivisions.
"I think what the city is doing is fair," Sonny Ashley said. "I don't think the city should pay money for me to make more money."
Mayor Wagner said they are not talking about doing away with apartments or manufactured homes, but zoning where they can be placed.
"If anyone has a problem with ordinances or zoning on mobile homes or apartments now is the time to let us know," Mayor Wagner said.
"I'm all for helping the city," Greg Stallings said. "I've lived here all over my life."
Mayor Wagner said he feels like the builders will be able to sell some R1 houses. Manila has a lot to offer.
"We have a nice airport and we are looking at funding for a new terminal building," Mayor Wagner said. "New jobs are coming to the county. Our swimming pool is going to be really nice. We have a lot going for us."
Woody Nunnally, a fireman in Manila, said Manila is going to grow. He went on to say it was up to the city officials if it will grow with good streets, water, fire protection, etc.
Nunnally talked about how much of a variance could be allowed and still be safe for fire protection. He talked about water lines, drainage and other factors that go with successful growth.
"These are good ideas," Tracey Reinhart said. "I think the key is variances have to be fair to everyone. It needs to be the same for everyone. I have a mobile home on a small lot that someday I would like to build a house on it but it will take a variance. We don't want a bunch of empty lots around town either."
One suggestion was made to have a copy of all building plans on record at city hall and make sure they are followed.
Ashley expressed his appreciation to the city officials for the clean-up effort underway.
"I think we are headed in the right direction," Nunnally said.
Mayor Wagner thanked everyone for their input.