October 11, 2007
13-story building approved by 4-3 vote
By Leah Square
Special to The Clarion-Ledger
This is a rendering of the 13-story proposed building (200 Renaissance) that will house the employees of Butler Snow law firm, the Horne CPA Group and a Fortune 500 company. The building was originally designed to be 17 stories.
Ridgeland aldermen approved developer H.C. “Buster” Bailey’s petition to build 200 Renaissance west of I-55 and Steed Road. The vote came at the end of a six-and-a-half hour public hearing stretching from late Wednesday to early this morning.
Hundreds of people packed into the Ridgeland High Cafetorium to hear more than five hours of “expert” and public comment preceding the vote. Following comments, Community Development Director Alan Hart recommended the petition be approved. After consulting City Attorney Jerry Mills, the mayor and aldermen followed with an executive session, saying the matter was grounds for potential litigation.
It was about 1 a.m. before the Board of Aldermen returned and voted 4-3 in favor of the developer.
The 13-story office building, 200 Renaissance, will house the employees of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada law firm, the Horne CPA Group and a Fortune 500 company. The land the building is proposed for is zoned for buildings four stories tall or less.
Bailey said construction is to start immediately because the tenants will be moving in during the fall of 2009.
After executive session, Alderman Scott Jones initiated a motion to approve the petition, citing it met 15 criteria as required by the city ordinances. Alderman Chuck Gautier seconded Jones’ motion.
Jones, Gautier and Aldermen Larry Roberts and Linda Davis voted for the petition. Aldermen Ken Heard, Gerald Steen and Kevin Holder voted against it.
Visibly emotional, Davis did not immediately vote when Mayor Gene McGee called for the hands of the aldermen who were for the petition. Only after the others voted did she say, “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, but I vote for it.”
Both Davis and Roberts had said they were undecided going into the public hearing. Bailey said the months leading up to the public hearing was a “long road.”
“I’m tired, and I’m just glad it’s over,” he said. “We want to do the best job we can to reconcile with the neighbors that were opposed to this.”
Zoning Ordinances Need Enforcement, a group that formed in opposition of the building, had voiced concerns about the building’s proposed height and potential to cause traffic jams. Some members said they wondered if they could trust their city leaders to enforce the zoning ordinances.
Go Ridgeland, a group of residents who have publicly offered support for the building, maintain the building will bring millions of dollars, prestige and upscale tenants into the city and the state.
Mills has said Attorney Steve Smith, who represents ZONE, may appeal the decision in Madison County Circuit Court. The Circuit Court decision would be based on the record of the mayor and aldermen public hearing, he said.
If either party is dissatisfied with the court decision, the case could then go to the Court of Appeals and possibly the Mississippi Supreme Court.
An appeal and intent to file a bill of exceptions must be presented to the court within 10 days of the public hearing, Smith said.
The minutes of the Sept. 10 Planning and Zoning Board public hearing were added to the record of the mayor and aldermen hearing. The zoning board failed to recommend the mayor and aldermen approve or deny the petition.