Costco Still Coming to Highland Colony

By ANTHONY WARREN,

Costco is still coming to Highland Colony Parkway, despite a recent ruling from the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Last week, the high court overturned the city of Ridgeland’s 2016 decision to rezone its zoning ordinance to allow areas zoned C-2 to have remote gas stations.

The amendments were made, according to court documents, specifically to benefit a Costco Wholesale warehouse.

Even without the gas station, leaders with the national wholesaler say they’re still coming to Ridgeland, sans a gas station.

“At the moment we have not changed our plans,” said Chief Executive Officer Craig Jelinek.

The Costco would be the anchor of the third phase of Renaissance at Colony Park, a shopping center that would include other stores in addition to the wholesale warehouse.

Following the court’s decision, Costco could still locate to land along the parkway.

Land uses permitted under C-2 zoning rules include “department stores (full line or discount) and furniture and appliance stores.” 

The classification has size restrictions, but limits the height of a development to 48 feet, or four stories.

In 2016, the city amended its zoning ordinance to define such developments as “large master plan commercial developments,” and to allow gas stations as part of those developments.

In its April 19 decision, though, the court ruled that the rezoning couldn’t occur because the city had not shown a “substantial change” in the area’s character since the passage of its comprehensive plan.

Further, the court ruled the changes constituted spot zoning, citing evidence that the amendments were made specifically to benefit a Costco.  

Ridgeland’s comprehensive plan was approved in 2009. The comprehensive zoning ordinance was updated in 2014.

The store would be located on approximately 15 acres of land along Highland Colony south of the Old Agency Road roundabout and near the Natchez Trace Parkway.

Before rezoning is allowed, local governments or those petitioning for rezoning must show a substantial change in the character of an area.

However, the court pointed out that Ridgeland had refused to allow any developments along the Highland Colony corridor a that would have changed its character.

“In context, before the proposed amendments even a Chick-fil-A with a drive through had not been allowed in a C-2 district,” the court wrote. “Yet the city argues that the addition of a Costco with a service station and drive-through restaurants (would) not effectively rezone the area.”

Prior to the 2016 amendments, service stations, fast-food restaurants with drive-throughs and drive-through pharmacies were prohibited in C-2 or C-2A districts, according to court records. Those uses were reserved for areas zoned C-3.

“Amendments to zoning ordinances ‘must be made after careful consideration because investments in land and property are significant financial decisions, and a landowner should be able to rely on a zoning plan to maintain the use and value of his property.”

The opinion was written by Associate Justice Leslie King.

Presiding Justices Jim Kitchens and Michael Randolph and Associate Justices James Maxwell, Dawn Beam, Robert Chamberlin and David Ishee concurred with the ruling.

Chief Justice Bill Waller and Associate Justice Josiah Coleman did not participate in the ruling.

See the decision at https://courts.ms.gov/Images/Opinions/CO129363.pdf

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