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MDA: Protective order still in place on Renaissance project records

By JACK WEATHERLY 

Andrew Mattiace has been dealing from a position of strength since January, when he was granted a four-year extension of the deadline to build the $98 million expansion of the Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland.

Otherwise, on July 2 he would have lost nearly $30 million in sales tax rebates under a state program for the project, which is facing a court challenge.

The Mississippi Business Journal obtained under the state Open Records Act the Jan. 11 certification for the extension granted by Mississippi Development Authority Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr.

It was the second extension of the Tourism Incentive Program granted on a retail project by McCullough to overrride state law. The extensions survived attempts to block them by Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, in the session that ended earlier this month.

However, the documents released to the Journal did not include Mattiace’s application for the extension.

Jeff Rent, spokesman for the MDA, said that the application is covered under the provisions of an order issued last fall by Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary sealing records in the expansion because of proprietary reasons.

Nine Ridgeland residents have sued Mattiace to block the expansion.

The expansion would include a Costco Wholesale store that plaintiff argue would cause traffic problems and devalue residential property.

Some of those records were released in December to The Clarion-Ledger, which had sued to open the case to the public because taxpayer money was involved.

Singletary approved on Dec. 10 a settlement between The Clarion-Ledger and Mattiace, doing business as Renaissance at Colony Park LLC.

Online court records do not show any such documents released to The Clarion-Ledger.

A call on Tuesday to Sam R. Hall, executive editor of the newspaper, was not returned.

The paper has not published a story about the released documents though Hall had said in a Sept. 11 article in the paper that sealing the records was “an affront to taxpayers.” Hall also pushed for release of the records in an opinion column.

Leonard Van Slyke, who represented the paper in the case, said on Monday that some of the records were released.

Evidently the information was not considered newsworthy.

Hall was quoted in a Dec. 1 Clarion-Ledger article after lawyers for the paper and the developer reached “a tentative agreement” and that “as we’ve stated from the beginning, our only interest is to ensure that taxpayer money is being properly spent.”

Singletary’s order dated Dec. 10 dismissed “claims against Renaissance . . . with prejudice, by reason of settlement.”

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