Gluckstadt citizens appeal rezoning

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GLUCKSTADT — Residents are still angry about Madison County's decision to waive zoning conditions for a developer and are taking their fight to court.

They're arguing no substantial evidence was presented to show there has been a "change in the character" in the neighborhood.

Kerry Minninger and Jay McKay and representatives of the "Incorporators for the City of Gluckstadt, Mississippi" filed an appeal in Circuit Court claiming the decision by the Board of Supervisors was both unsupported by substantial evidence and arbitrary and capricious.

The appeal filed last week seeks to invalidate the unanimous vote, giving five reasons why the appellants believe the court should throw it out:

• There is no substantial evidence that there has been a "change in the character" of the neighborhood.

• There is no evidence of a public need for the road.

• The traffic study presented to the board by the developers includes evidence that contradicts their own argument.

• School traffic will be adversely affected by the removal of the 2015 agreed-upon re-zoning conditions.

• The result of the road and removal of the conditions represents a danger to the public.

At issue is the board's July 15 decision to allow developers Ron Hutchinson, Annett Harreld and John Harreld to essentially renegotiate a deal it struck with Gluckstadt residents in 2015.

The developers four years ago wanted their land at the corner of Calhoun Parkway and Church Road re-zoned from R-1 residential to C-2 commercial.

After receiving backlash from residents, the Board of Supervisors at that time approved the change with an amendment of 22 specific stipulations. Among them: no liquor stores, no gas station and, most importantly, no connector road could intersect with Church Road.

The developers agreed to that deal in 2015, then returned earlier this month, almost four years to the date, and asked to have the connector road prohibition removed.

Following a spirited debate between the residents and lawyers for the developers, the board voted unanimously to allow the developers to extend a road initially designed to end in a cul-de-sac.

Residents showed up to the meeting to voice their concerns.

"We live out there," Jay McKay told the board at the meeting. "So we know what the traffic is like. We know what it was like before they took the stop signs down on Church Road and Stribling Road. It might be better now, but the traffic is still increasing every year."

Keith O'Keefe, Central Mississippi Manager and Senior Vice President of Neal-Schaffer, presented a traffic study and told the board that although there is currently no need for a new traffic signal for motorists on Church Road, there will be a need for one in the future.

He also said the company's study predicts that some drivers will treat the road like a bypass for the Church Road-Calhoun Station intersection.

District One Supervisor Sheila Jones and District Two Supervisor Trey Baxter both expressed discomfort with the re-zoning, with Jones telling Wade at one point she does "not believe you have met your burden of proof."

Both ultimately voted with the board unanimously to approve the rezoning with the condition that the new connection would be a "right-in, right-out only" intersection.


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