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Recording studio site plan gets approval from panel

The owner of a state-of-the-art recording studio went before the Lafayette County Planning Commission last week seeking an amended variance rather than a new site plan for an expansion of their facility.

Andrew Ratcliffe was given a building permit last year and has begun infrastructure work on roads. The permit was granted prior to the new building codes that the county adopted in 2015.

“I think I am the first of its kind where I have a building permit and we’ve started road infrastructure on this facility and now I am being treated as a new facility under new codes with existing building permits,” Ratcliffe said.

Tweed Recording Studio wants to add five cabins to their site and it would cost several thousand dollars to file a new site plan rather than amend the existing one.

Planning commission chairman T.J. Ray told Ratcliffe that his plans presented to the commission “looks like a whole new world” and believes he should have to file a new site plan.

The original site plan included three buildings — a recording studio, lodge, and a school — all of which have been moved to different locations on the property than the original site plan shows.

The facility will have its own water system and the developer is working on health department approval.

Once construction is complete, the recording studio will encompass a self-contained facility that will include cabins and main studio on five of the 62 acres.

According to Ratcliffe, a building within a steel building that is made of cinder block will house two recording studios. The purpose is to make the studio as sound proof as possible for acoustic purposes.

“It’s a very tight-knit plan unlike anywhere in the world,” Ratcliffe said. “We’re taking the best of every recording studio. What I would call the temples of sound, from Abbey Road to

Malair and bringing those here to Lafayette County.”

The studio will also have two film studios for post-production of motion pictures.

“It will be a post facility for the state of Mississippi for all the major motion pictures that are coming into the state,” Ratcliffe said. “They’re filming here and then leaving because there’s nowhere for them to stay and mix their audio to film.”

Ratcliffe said they will teach a film class also on how to mix audio to film.

“How you mix a soundtrack or voiceovers,” Ratcliffe said.

Another building will house a recording school with two smaller studios and two classrooms.

“This is where we will be taking kids from all over the world with a very rigorous admissions process and teaching them the art and history of analog recording,” Ratcliffe said. “That’s the heartbeat of the facility we are building.”

There is also a separate entrance to the facility for recording artists who will be using the studio.

“The artists we are catering to with this facility is the Taylor Swifts and Rolling Stones,” Ratcliffe said. “This is a very high-end recording facility and very private.”

There will also be a lodge with four hotel suites and an entertainment area for the recording artists to stay and relax.

There are also four 1,200 square foot cabins with two bedrooms within each one.

“So if the artists want to stay on site, they can,” Ratcliffe said.

Overall, the commission praised Ratcliffe for his development and the plans he presented and approved the preliminary plan contingent upon health department approval.

“I think you have one of the best plans I’ve ever seen brought to Lafayette County and I don’t want to do anything that hinders you in any way,” Commissioner Ray Garrett said. “But from the point of the view of the chair (Ray), it can’t be anything but a new site plan. Over 90 percent of your buildings are going to be either new or in different locations.”

Commissioner Dick Marchbanks made the motion for the site plan to be approved and the building permit fee be negotiated with the county board of supervisors. Garrett seconded and the motion was approved with Ray abstaining.