Renaissance vote to be appealed
Leah Square • firstname.lastname@example.org • December 7, 2007
Opponents of a controversial 13-story building are appealing a Tuesday evening aldermen vote that approved the building design plans.
With Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee casting a tie-breaking vote in the absence of Alderman Linda Davis, the design plans were approved 4-3 after an aldermen who favored the plans asked the board to reconsider its earlier 4-3 vote of disapproval.
Lawson Hester, an attorney who opposes the building, said opponent’s are appealing because it’s unlawful for a member of the losing side to make a motion to reconsider a final vote.
“It’s was voted down 4 to 3,” Hester said. “That was the final vote.”
According to Robert’s Rule of Order for fair and orderly meetings and conventions, a motion to reconsider can be made “only by one on the prevailing side who has changed position or view.”
But City Attorney Jerry Mills maintains the board has done nothing illegal.
“We do not strictly adhere to Robert’s Rule of Order,” Mills said. “It’s my opinion that the board is on solid ground.”
Aldermen who voted against the design said their chief concern about developer Buster Bailey’s design plans was a 7-level, 67-foot-tall parking garage to be built next to the office building, 200 Renaissance. The building, pinpointed for I-55 and Steed Road, is to house the employees of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada Law Firm, Horne CPA Group and Regions Bank.
After the original vote of disapproval and an executive session, Davis made an abrupt exit.
Davis had voted against the plans in the original vote, citing disapproval of the parking garage. Later, she said she left before the final vote because she “couldn’t in good conscience vote for either position.”
In addition to appealing in Madison County Circuit Court on the basis of Robert’s Rule, Hester said petitioners will challenge the board vote on the grounds that the city zoning ordinance does not properly address height limitations on parking garages.
Community Development Director Alan Hart said the ordinance does not regulate the height of a structure that is at least 40 percent “open.”
“It’s not considered a closed building,” Hart said. “There’s no limitation on the parking garage.”
The office building has been a point of conflict in Ridgeland for months because of its original 17-story height design, among other things. Some residents said they felt the design was not in keeping with a “Mediterranean feel,” the theme of the surrounding development.
Bailey, in an effort to appease the opposition, moved parking levels to knock the building down to 13 stories.
The initial 17-story “glass wedge” building was also redesigned by decreasing the amount of glass surface by 25 percent by increasing the amount of concrete paneling.
Aldermen granted a special exception in October to allow the 13-story building in an area zoned for buildings no taller than four stories.
Some residents, including Hester, have appealed the aldermen’s October vote and are awaiting a court ruling.
Hester said opponents’ latest appeal may become part of the original appeal. He said it will be filed within 10 days of the Tuesday vote.
Bailey has said construction will move forward, regardless of an appeal.
Construction on 200 Renaissance may begin as early as next week, he said.
Pile tests and preliminary work have already been performed, and construction on the $60 million building will take about two years to complete.
Tenants plan to move into the building from downtown Jackson by October 2009.