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Costco war moves to yet another battlefield

By JACK WEATHERLY

Opponents of the proposed Costco Wholesale store in Ridgeland are relentless in their effort to block developers.

The “war” that has dragged on for three years over the project proposed as the anchor for the 45-acre phase three of the Renaissance at Colony Park mall has moved to a third battlefield.

The Mississippi Supreme Court was unanimous in finding on April 19, 2018 that the site zoning approved by the city was illegal and done as a favor to Costco and the developer, Mattiace Properties of Jackson.

Afterward, the city approved a site plan for a “fueling station” set on two acres across High Colony Parkway, which homeowners subsequently challenged in Madison County Circuit Court and is pending.

Pipe is stacked on the 45-acre site, though no construction has begun.
Photo by Jack Weatherly

The station was an especially nettlesome aspect of the big development, which opponents contend would bring heavy traffic and disruption of the area in which they live, primarily because of Costco, which is a private shopping club like Sam’s Club.

Now the action turns to the Madison County Chancery Court over a permit issued by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for the bigger site.

Steve Maloney, who represents six homeowners living in the vicinity of the development in the case pending in Madison County Circuit Court, responded in the chancery court case in which the MDEQ seeks dismissal of an appeal of a water permit it granted in June 2016 for the site.

The MDEQ said that Maloney’s appeal should have been filed March 3, 2017, 20 days after the issuance, not 20 months, as Maloney did.

Maloney countered that “the citizens are not appealing the initial permit. The citizens are appealing the failure of the MDEQ to revoke the initial permit. . . because it was based almost entirely on zoning laws that were later declared illegal” by the Supreme Court on April 19.

Four days after the Supreme Court ruling, Maloney argued in a chancery court filing, the MDEQ “should require the developers to cease and desist all activities on the subject property in light of the recent Mississippi Supreme Court ruling.”

Nevertheless, the MDEQ maintained that “Renaissance may still develop the site as planned; it simply cannot construct a fueling station on site.”

Maloney argued in his Madison Circuit Court filing that what Costco calls its “fueling station” is not a “service station” that sells to the public.

“Costco is left with the unenviable task of proving that their ‘private club fueling station’ is a ‘service station,’ even though they have argued in other jurisdictions that their ‘private club station’ is not a ‘service station.’”

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About Jack Weatherly