RIDGELAND, Mississippi (WJTV) – A Madison County judge will decide whether a Costco can move forward in the city of Ridgeland, Mississippi.
Some Madison County residents are challenging the construction of the warehouse store near the Renaissance. Both sides made their arguments in court on Monday, March 20, 2017.
They are arguing that the city changed the zoning for one reason – to build the Costco, essentially giving the company preferential treatment. The City of Ridgeland argues that it is part of a comprehensive plan, no spot zoning. Attorney Sheldon Alston is an attorney representing Homeowners Opposed to Costco. He says, “I’ve got an individual entity that’s making a request for the change and the city is bending over backwards to make exactly the changes that are needed to get the Costco in there, period.” Presenting the argument for the other side City of Ridgeland Attorney James Peden, Jr., says, “We feel good about our argument. We were going to reiterate what was in our briefs. Of course the matter is before the judge. Judge [John] Emfinger is an experienced judge. We look forward to his decision.”
Cassandra Walter is one of the residents who opposes the proposed Costco location. “I don’t think without the zoning change that would allow Costco to have their gas station and without the fast food Costco doesn’t want that spot,” she says. “So it’s an all or nothing proposition. So that’s why it’s important for the neighbors to stay in opposition to this.”
…(I)t’s an all or nothing proposition. So that’s why it’s important for the neighbors to stay in opposition to this.” Cassandra Walter
The City argues that the Costco zoning change would be part three of the Renaissance development. Peden argues, “…(T)he Mississippi Supreme Court has said it is not spot zoning if the zoning action is in accordance with the city’s comprehensive plan.”
Not all neighbors opposed the box store. Tom Logue supports Costco: “We don’t live in the country anymore. We live in the city and you can’t stop growth just because you don’t like it in your area.”
“…(Y)ou can’t stop growth just because you don’t like it in your area.” Tom Logue
Ridgeland officials say this is part of a long fight in the effort to grow the city. Residents protested efforts to build the Butler Snow building because it was 13 stories tall. The city won that battle and hopes to win this fight over Costco.
Both sides walked away feeling food about their respective cases. No it will be up to the judge to decide whether the city broke any laws by changing the ordinance. Circuit Judge John Emfinger indicates he will make his decision as soon as possible. The land is already being cleared and the developer hopes to start construction later this year.