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Developers withdraw zoning application for former country club

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Jack Weatherly

Developers who bought the former Colonial Country Club withdrew on Wednesday their application to rezone the 152 acres to mixed-use in face of opposition by homeowners associations in northeast Jackson.

“Our client . . wishes to withdraw its application,” Jackson lawyer James Peden told the city Planning Board. “Our client has heard the neighborhood.”

The developers, Colonial Jackson LLC, want to work with the neighborhood to “strengthen and revitalize” the area, Peden said.

“We hope to be back in the not-too-distant future,” Peden said.

Had the developers pushed ahead for the change and lost they would have to wait another year to reapply.

Michael Cory, a resident of the Heatherwood neighborhood, called the decision “a tactical withdrawal.”

Cory, a lawyer who deals in real estate matters, said that the application was doomed because it did not prove that there has been a substantial change in the neighborhood and that there was public need.

Bert Green, a resident of the Carolwood neighborhood, said, “We want to work with the developers . . . and finish the renaissance of northeast Jackson.”

An overflow crowd at the City Council Chambers on March 16 representing at least a half-dozen homeowners associations persuaded the Zoning Board committee to drop a proposed amendment to the municipal zoning code that would have changed Special Use Districts to include a mixed-use provision.

The former country club and many other areas across the city set aside for such use — along with parks, churches, cemeteries, hospitals and schools — are zoned Special Use, Ward 1 Councilman Ashby Foote pointed out.

The neighborhoods started talking with the developers early in the year, but the sides reached an impasse, when, according to the associations, the developers insisted on reserving the right to do an all-commercial revamping of the land under the CMU-1 classification.

The Planning Board tabled the application on Jan. 28, postponing it till Feb. 25, but the developers said they could not attend because of inclement weather.

A board meeting was held on March 4. And the homeowners said they were not notified, that a legal ad was not published in the Mississippi Link, which won the privilege to print legal ads for the city by submitting the lowest bid.

Esther Ainsworth, zoning director, said at the March 16 meeting that the advance-notice ad had been run, which elicited a loud “no!” from the crowd.

Lee Morris, deputy city clerk for Ward 1, said that the ad had not been run.

In a meeting of the associations on March 15, members said they suspected that the developers were attempting an “end run”  by amending the zoning code, rather than having another public meeting such as the one held Wednesday.

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