By JACK WEATHERLY
The Mississippi Supreme Court found on Thursday that the city of Ridgeland acted improperly in rezoning property for what would’ve allowed the construction a Costco Wholesale store on a 45-acre site on Highland Colony Parkway.
The court reversed a ruling by Judge John Emfinger in Madison County Circuit Court. It ruled that the city of Ridgeland hadn’t proved that the rezoning was justified and had illegally tailored its decision to aid the developer, Andrew Mattiace, who planned for a so-called third phase of Renaissance at Colony Park, an open-air shopping mall.
A three-justice panel on Feb. 5 fired questions at the city’s attorneys during oral arguments, foreshadowing the ruling.
However, the ruling might not completely rule out a Costco at the site in Ridgeland.
“What they build there [would have to be] consistent with the original zoning. Can that be a Costco? I’d have to see the plan,” Sheldon Alston said in an interview on Friday.
“I think the Supreme Court ruled correctly on all points we have been making from the beginning,” Alston said.
“Our argument from the beginning wasn’t that it wasn’t about Costco. It was about allowing gas stations, drive-through restaurants and other things to accommodate the Costco,” Alston said in an interview Friday.
Not all Costcos have gas stations. The Issaquah, Wash.,-based chain does not comment on plans.
The court voted 7-0, with two abstentions, in favor of homeowners, who filed suit against the city in 2016.
The homeowners in nearby affluent subdivisions say they’re worried about increased traffic because of the wholesale store and possible devaluation of their property.
The Supreme Court ruled that the city acted arbitrarily and capriciously to amend its C-2 zoning ordinance in favor of Costco.
“Because the City of Ridgeland amended its zoning ordinance shortly after adopting a new comprehensive zoning ordinance and map in order to accommodate Costco, substantially changing the uses previously allowed in a C-2 district without showing a substantial change in neighborhood character, the amendments constituted an illegal rezoning,” the order reads.
“In addition, because the amendments were entirely designed to suit Costco, the amendments constituted illegal spot-zoning as well.”
The site has already been cleared and graded.
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