Citizens get day in court over Costco
Wednesday, March 15, 2017 6:00 PM
RIDGELAND — Residents who continue to oppose a proposed Costco here will have their day in court next week as they challenge an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance.
The appeal was filed last April against the city of Ridgeland and concerns an April 5, 2016, amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance.
The Circuit Clerk’s office confirmed on Tuesday that the case, Beard vs. the City of Ridgeland, will go before Judge John Emfinger on March 20 at 2:30 p.m. at the Madison County Circuit Court in Canton.
The amendment concerns the city’s C-2 classification, which helps define large master planned developments.
Opponents specifically point out that an amended section concerning remote service stations paved the way for Costco to come to Ridgeland as part of the Renaissance Phase III Development on Highland Colony Parkway south of the roundabout.
As of press time, none of the nine who are party to the appeal could not be reached. The city of Ridgeland declined to comment.
“Because this is a pending litigation, our legal counsel has advised us not to comment at this time,” a statement from the Mayor’s office read.
Last year, the developer, Andrew Mattiace, said they would like to start construction on the anchor tenant later this year. Land is already being cleared.
The proposed development would include one primary anchor tenant, Costco, and five additional tenants.
The anchor tenant would be located in the southern portion of the development and would include an approximately 150,000 square foot building with approximately 650 parking spaces and necessary utilities.
The additional five tenants would include a total of approximately 158,000 square foot of retail space with approximately 955 parking spaces.
The project, as it stands, will be broken into two separate projects that operate off one master plan.
Central to the project is the Lake Harbour extension that will connect with the Highland Colony just south of the development.
Dogged opponents of the project have said that the development would bring in more traffic than the Parkway could handle and would alter the serene aesthetic appeal residents have long enjoyed living in the country.
Other reasons have been that the development would alter animal habitats and the natural flow of Purple Creek, which drains south toward County Line Road, although state Department of Environmental Quality officials cleared the development in June of last year and again at an evidentiary hearing appealing that decision in early November.
The residents who are opposed have formed the group Ridgeland Citizens for Responsible Development http://ridgelandcitizens.com and have a Facebook page with about 1,300 likes.
Janet Graves Ellis posted on the Facebook page in August, “I miss the Old Agency [Road] we lived on when we moved from Northeast Jackson to Madison County. We were in the county for years before Ridgeland took us in. A lot has changed in 23 years. And I DO NOT like it! Leave our little country side of paradise alone!”
Nine residents filed the lawsuit against the city over the amended ordinance, which they claim was specifically adopted to accommodate Costco.
The residents who filed the suit are: Gerald Emmett Beard, Charles Jules Michel, Harold Joseph Byrd, Nils Kerem Mungan, George Thatcher Shepard Jr., Matthew Denson DeShazo, William M. Aden, Thomas I. Rice III and Joel G. Payne Jr.
Those opposed are mostly residents of nearby upscale developments of Montrachet, Dinsmor, Canterbury, Windrush and Greenwood Plantation all west of I-55 in the Old Agency Road vicinity.
Right-of-way for the eight-mile $10 million Parkway, which opened in April 1994, was donated by landowners with the express intent of creating commercial development.
Constructed by Madison County, the city of Ridgeland and the city of Madison, the initiative required special enabling legislation in the Mississippi Legislature.
When the Parkway opened, with the exception of the then-brand new Madison Central High School, there was nothing but forest and pasture land, but which has since exploded with commercial and even residential development, especially north of Old Agency, attracting major corporate tenants like C Spire and stand-alone buildings for many of the metro’s major financial institutions like Trustmark.
The Parkway runs all the way from I-220 in Jackson north to Mississippi 463 in Madison.