By JACK WEATHERLY
The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a motion by the City of Ridgeland to reconsider its April 21 ruling against a zoning change to accommodate a Costco Wholesale Store.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the same seven justices who ruled against the city in the case that has captivated the attention of Ridgeland and beyond for several years were again in accord on the Thursday ruling, which was accompanied with no comment.
Justices William Waller and Josiah Coleman did not vote, just as in the April 21 ruling.
The city, however, is moving forward with an aspect of the original plan for 45 acres on the east side of Highland Colony Parkway.
The Board of Aldermen voted 4-3 on June 19 to approve a site plan for a Costco fueling station across Highland Colony Parkway. The fuel station inclusion had particularly rankled opponents, who contend the presence of the wholesaler would create heavy traffic and change the complexion of the immediate area, which includes upscale residential neighborhoods.
The plan for the 45 acres that would be the so-called third phase of the Renaissance at Colony Park, which would include retail outlets including the Costco Wholesale Store will become a reality, Mayor Gene McGee said in a public statement.
Moving forward with the gas station, meantime, is a case of putting the â€œcart before the horse,â€ attorney Steve Maloney said at the June 19 meeting.
Maloney, representing six of the nine residents who sued the city in Beard et al v. City of Ridgeland, accused the aldermen and mayor of attempting the same â€œend runâ€ tactic that had failed before the Supreme Court.
The latest lawsuit, which includes six of the nine plaintiffs in the first case, contends that the city decided against allowing a storage facility on the two acres of the nine-acre parcel only after the city fared poorly in oral arguments before a three-justice panel of the Supreme Court on Feb. 5.
Previously, the city Zoning Board approved a plan for Storage Park Properties LLC to rezone the nine-acre parcel to C-3 to C-2, and grant it conditional use.
But after the unfavorable Supreme Court ruling, the board of aldermen imposed a 90-day moratorium on storage facilities, then changed the zoning ordinance, blocking storage facilities on C-3 property.
The suit cites an interview in the Northside Sun on May 10 in which McGee said said that storage facilities would not be good â€œfirst impressions of the city.â€
The suit says sarcastically: â€œInstead he would like [a] fuel [center] to welcome to Ridgeland.â€
As of Friday, the suit has not moved forward in the Madison County Circuit Court. It has been assigned to Judge William Chapman.
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