News- Editorial/High-rise debate healthy for R'land

EDITORIAL/High-rise debate healthy for R'land
Thursday, September 06, 2007
A $500 million research facility is being considered in Flora.

Plans call for a $33 million interchange on Interstate 55 at Reunion Parkway north of Mississippi 463 and will open up hundreds of acres to development.

A $15 million sports complex north of Madison has been approved with more than a dozen baseball and softball fields and up to eight Olympic-sized soccer fields.

Any one of these developments would be a rare and major headline in just about any other community in the state.

Reports about all three of these developments were in the news this week and we can expect more of the same next week and countless weeks after that.

For those just now tuning in, Madison County has been experiencing a golden age of growth and prosperity for more than a decade. Developments that other communities would give their eye teeth for are coming here in remarkable numbers.

Madison and Ridgeland are what they are because of better zoning ordinances and restrictions on growth.

Residents are apt to fight proposed developments hoping to preserve their quality of life. That's just part of life in the suburbs.

The proposed 17-story building in the Renaissance development in Ridgeland off Highland Colony Parkway and Old Agency is the latest to draw the ire of neighbors.

The main tenant of the building would be the Butler Snow law firm and its 250 attorneys.

With zoning approval pending and a good many residents opposed, Butler Snow released a statement on Friday basically saying if the structure isn't built they may not come, adding a tangible loss to the equation, which would be bad for Ridgeland.

The skyscraper represents a huge increase in tax revenue for the city and county and is an ideal form of commercial development for any community - high-end office space. Ridgeland will have arrived and set itself apart if this project comes to fruition.

Some residents say they won't stand for the high-rise, however. They say the building does not meet city code and could set a precedent for similar structures in the future. That might not be entirely true.

Of all places, Ridgeland has the infrastructure to support such a development or could quickly add to, say, its firefighting capabilities.

Some say they fear increased traffic, a change in the character of their neighborhoods and even others fear someone may be able to peer into their homes while perched atop the proposed high-rise.

As far as traffic, the shopping center may be worse than the high-rise and it's already being built.

Most of these are legitimate complaints and concerns, but city leaders must look out for what is best for Ridgeland in the long-run and it will be hard to say no to this project. City officials will have to work hard to dispel rumors and calm fears.

We applaud residents who have actively and so enthusiastically engaged in the debate, though. Only good can come from such community involvement.

By holding public officials accountable and raising questions, developers will be forced to compromise, hopefully in a way that best suits not only the city, but the residents as well.

Madison County is surely experiencing its Golden Age, but like any community or civilization throughout history that age will not endure forever.

It's up to everyone - developers, elected officials and residents alike - to make the most of the opportunities to ensure a good future for all.

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