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DEQ schedules date to consider permit for Renaissance expansion

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Lake Harbour Drive is being extended to Highland Colony Parkway and Colony Park Boulevard is being extended to Highway 51 to take pressure off the retail areas dominated by the Renaissance at Colony Park.

By JACK WEATHERLY

The Mississippi Environmental Quality Permit Board will meet at 9 a.m. on June 30 in the commission hearing room   at 515 East Amite Street in Jackson to consider issuance of a federal Clean Water Act certification and a storm water permit sought by  Renaissance at Colony Park, LLC, Phase III in Ridgeland.

Development of the 45-acre site on Highland Colony Parkway has been under intense community opposition since the plan surfaced last year. Opponents have primarily cited what they consider to be an adverse impact on traffic and residential property because of the plan to build a Costco Wholesale store.

The hearing will be opponents’ last regulatory chance to block the expansion of the mall. Some homeowners have filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court opposing it.

The Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing on May 19 at Ridgeland High School at which relevant aspects of the project were discussed, with opposition from residents.

Renaissance at Colony Park has submitted a water quality certification application to the department for the clearing and filling of 14 acres of forested wetlands, channelization and excavation impacts to 1,701 linear feet of Purple Creek and piping and excavation impacts to 2,561 linear feet of ditches.

A 150,000-square-foot Costco Wholesale, whose presence in the development is the focus of opposition, would be built and have about 650 parking places. Five other buildings totaling about 158,000 square feet and 955 parking spaces would increase runoff.

Because of increased runoff, the developer plans a water retention basin and a weir placed to allow continued flow. Also, the developer would buy stream and wetland mitigation credits.

The expansion, which has been approved by the Ridgeland Board of Aldermen, qualified under state law as a “cultural retail attraction,” which “combines destination shopping with cultural or historical interpretive elements specific to Mississippi.”

In qualifying for the now-defunct program, the $96.7 million project will get a sales tax rebate of up to 30 percent, or nearly $30 million. It and other projects have been given an extra four years to take advantage of the program, which means it would have to be complete by July 1, 2020.

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