Coming Soon

By ANTHONY WARREN,

New Costco construction scheduled to start in spring

Construction on the Ridgeland Costco could get under way in the spring, according to Ridgeland city officials.

“The developer plans to begin construction … in March and expects that Costco will be open before Christmas,” said Mayor Gene McGee.

“They will continue to complete the drainage portions of the work, and then they will complete the dirt pad portion of the work. Once the pads are complete, they will begin the foundation work and … construction,” he said.

Developers Andrew Mattiace and H.C. Bailey are building the Costco Wholesale on Highland Colony Parkway south of Old Agency Road.

The wholesaler will be the anchor store of the third phase of Renaissance at Colony Park.

Crews have been clearing land for months, and are now installing a box culvert and building a retention pond to alleviate runoff that will be generated by the project once it’s complete.

“A weir was added as well to let the water (into Purple Creek),” said Ward One Alderman Ken Heard. “That had to be done for MDEQ.”

MDEQ is the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The agency granted developers a water quality permit and storm water management certification for the project in 2016.

Permits were needed because of the potential impact on Purple Creek, as well as nearby wetlands.

The roughly 150,000-square-foot warehouse, its adjoining parking lot and gas station will sit on the south side of a 45-acre site.

To date, Ridgeland has issued a tree clearing permit and site clearing permit for the work.

“Large projects normally are broken into multiple permits. The developer has only pulled two permits so far,” McGee said. “They have not yet pulled the full building permit.”

 

Meanwhile, the court case challenging the Costco continues.

The Mississippi Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case on Monday, February 15, 2018.

The arguments follow more than a year and a half of litigation involving the city and citizens opposed to the project.

In May 2016, nine residents appealed the city’s decision to amend its zoning ordinance to Madison County Circuit Court.

Earlier that year, the mayor and board of aldermen approved amending its C-2 zoning ordinance to allow for drive-through restaurants and remote gas stations, items not previously allowed under the zoning classification.

Opponents argued the amendments were made specifically to bring in the Costco.

The Costco development will also include a remote gas station.

City officials, though, argued that the zoning affected all C-2 properties, not just the Costco site, which is zoned C-2A.

Some residents are opposed to the project, in part, because it could impact the quality of life in nearby neighborhoods. Opponents are also worried about the increased traffic the store will generate, which will impact Highland Colony, as well as Old Agency Road.

Old Agency is a historic tree-lined corridor that is often used by cyclists.

Opponents also argued that the amendments constituted spot zoning and was not in line with the RAMP, the Ridgeland Area Master Plan.

In April, Madison County Circuit Judge John Emfinger upheld the city’s zoning changes, and the case was appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

In July, the court denied a request from Ridgeland for an expedited review of the case. And in October, justices struck down Ridgeland’s motion to have a portion of opponents’ arguments thrown out.

Ridgeland argued that the opposition could not use the Costco site plan in its arguments, because it had not cited the plan in its filings with the circuit court.

Further, Ridgeland said appellants did not appeal the city’s decision to approve the site plan.

The site plan was approved in June, after residents filed its initial appeal.

The city also argued that opponents “had failed to make a record of any ‘adverse effect’ caused by the project, which would be ‘different from the adverse effect experienced by the general public.’ ”

Opponents, though, claim they do have standing, in part, because they would be adversely affected by the “traffic, noise, litter and ... associate decline of nearby residential property values,” brought about by the development.

Whether Costco would have a negative impact on property values remains to be seen. According to a 2014 article from CBS News, the average Costco member “is college educated, owns a home and earns about $100,000 a year.”

More than half of the residents over 25 in the 39157 ZIP code, the area where the Costco would be located, have a bachelor’s degree, with 22 percent having a graduate or professional degree, according to city-data.com. Household incomes in the area are $56,000 a year, according to Data USA.

Appellants include Gerald Beard, Charles Michel, Harold Byrd, Nils Mungan, George Shepard Jr., Matthew DeShazo, William Aden, Thomas Rice and Joel Payne Jr., according to court records.

The appellants live in Montrachet, Dinsmor, Canterbury, Windrush and Greenwood subdivisions, all in Ridgeland.

The high court dismissed Ridgeland’s request on October 23.

Mattiace couldn’t be reached for comment.

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