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Planners unanimously back rezoning for Colonial Highlands

 Looking north on Parkway Drive The commercial aspect will be to the right, buffered by a green strip.

Looking north on Parkway Drive The commercial aspect will be to the right, buffered by a green strip.

By JACK WEATHERLY

The Colonial Highlands traditional neighborhood took a major step toward becoming a reality Wednesday when the Jackson Planning Board voted 10-0 to recommend the rezoning of the former 152-acre Colonial Country Club.

The matter will be taken up by the City Council, which could close a stormy chapter in the effort to build what has been called the last major residential development site in the city.

The council could take up the matter on March 21 at 2:30 at City Hall.

Colonial Jackson LLC, the developer, has said that the project will cost at least $250 million – and will raise property values in that part of northeast Jackson.

A year ago, the developers had sought to have the city change its zoning code to allow mixed-use development on land zoned special use, such as golf courses and parks. That would have allowed commercial development in those lands without public hearings.

But a showdown at City Hall with a standing-room-only meeting of area residents in March convinced the council members that was not a good idea to pursue.

Later that month, the developers dropped the zoning code change effort and resurfaced in October.

Led by noted architect Steve Oubre’, chief executive of Architects Southwest of Lafayette, La., the developers held a number of meetings at the old course’s clubhouse and won over the vast majority of area residents.

The 152-acre site would include 600 residences of varying sizes and styles, retail shops, restaurants and a grocery.

The 152-acre site would include 600 residences of varying sizes and styles, retail shops, restaurants and a grocery.

Yet two at Wednesday’s meeting at the Hood Building voiced concern about the impact of traffic and the commercial aspect of the development, which will include a grocery and shops.

Bob Gilchrist, who owns two houses across from the planned retail/residential space, said that the commercial aspect should be moved to the center of the development.

Joe Pennington, who lives at 112 Parkway Dr., said that on-street parking would become a problem because of increased traffic and that the commercial aspect across the street from his house would devalue his property.

Oubre’ said the opposite was true and Hugh Hogue, a property appraiser, agreed with Oubre’.

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