By JACK WEATHERLY
A hearing will be held Nov. 8 by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in a challenge to its approval of a water permit for a proposed expansion of the Renaissance at Colony Park in Ridgeland that would include a disputed Costco Wholesale store.
Ridgeland lawyer Steve Maloney said in an interview that he is a person of interest in the matter that has drawn widespread opposition to building a Costco, an upscale discount store.
He noted that about 2,500 Ridgeland citizens have signed a petition opposing the development, though he said he is not an attorney for them and is not being compensated for his work.
He said he lives in Greenwood Plantation, about a mile from the proposed expansion.
“This is our first chance to question the evidence” presented at the June 30 MDEQ Permit Board hearing at which the certification was approved unanimously.
Maloney said the format for the hearing did not allow for cross-examination, though state law mandates an “evidentiary hearing” to permit that.
Maloney said that there will be several meetings between the representatives for developer Andrew Mattiace and opponents, and that some issues could be resolved before the Nov. 8 hearing.
In the June 30 hearing, Maloney hammered away at the fact that the developer simply was not ready to move forward, having at the time only ownership of the land for the Costco on the 45-acre site.
The plan for the site along the east side of Highland Colony Parkway in Ridgeland calls for the clearing and filling of 14 acres of forested wetlands, channelization and excavation of 1,701 feet of Purple Creek and the impact of pipe and excavation on 2,561 feet of ditches.
Because of the increased runoff, the developer plans a water retention basin and a weir to permit continued flow.
The board is the last regulatory hurdle for the project.
However, nine homeowners who oppose the expansion plan filed suit in Madison County Circuit Court last year challenging the legitimacy of the plans for the third phase of Renaissance, which qualified for a now-defunct state program, by which the $69.7 million project will get a sales tax rebate of up to 30 percent of the construction cost, or nearly $30 million. It would have to be completed by July 1, 2020.
The proposed 150,000-square-foot Costco is the flash point for opponents, who contend that the store and other tenants would increase traffic along Highland Colony Parkway and devalue nearby residential areas, many of which have upscale homes.
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