Zone group focusing on 200 Renaissance; not appealing Hyatt Place
AN ATTORNEY FOR A GROUP opposing the construction of a 13-story building at Renaissance said ZONE is preparing for a briefing in Madison County Circuit Court and that it will not appeal Ridgeland officials’ decision to grant a height variance to Hyatt Place Hotel at the mixed-use development.
“We didn’t appeal it because we’re focused on 200 Renaissance,” Steve Smith said. “The court will set a briefing schedule, and I anticipate it will be set in two or three weeks.”
Regions Bank, Horne CPA Group and Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada Law Firm are expected to move into the Renaissance offices notwithstanding court action to block developer Buster Bailey from building the structure at 13 stories.
Last December, Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee cast the tie-breaking, 4-3 vote to approve a variance request to build the $60 to $70 million tower. Bailey altered his original plan to build 17 stories as a compromise with those opposing it. City officials in October authorized an exception to allow the 13-story building in an area zoned for buildings no taller than four stories.
ZONE appealed the decision and has threatened to file a lawsuit preventing Bailey from creating an overlay district at Renaissance, claiming he would use the district to minimize public input on how properties at Colony Park are developed.
COLONY PARK EXTENDS south from Old Agency Road north to the Madison city limits. An overlay district already has been created at The Township, a planned mixed-use community along Highland Colony Parkway at Steed Road.
Generally, overlay districts add to provisions of underlying zoning and apply to specific corridors and ensure needs of such areas are met. Ridgeland’s other overlay district is at Old Towne, on West Jackson Street.
Smith said ZONE members had not explained why they did not want to appeal Ridgeland’s decision on Hyatt after they repeatedly threatened to do so.
“I haven’t discussed it with my people,” he said. “And it’s not up to me.”
ZONE, or Zoning Ordinances Need Enforcement, maintains Ridgeland ignores its own ordinances, such as allowing buildings to be constructed higher than four stories, and contends Bailey continues to receive favorable treatment for “a bill of goods.”
“But height is just one of the issues,” Smith said. “There are a lot of different things. Here you have a city that gives a building permit for a six-story permit when they didn’t get an exemption for it. That is gross negligence or willful for the sake of economic development. There’s nothing right with what they’re trying to do over there, and they know it.”
Ridgeland officials deny the allegations, claiming exceptions have been made on a case-by-case basis in the best interest of the community.
Aldermen’s vote March 18 followed a unanimous vote days earlier by the city’s Zoning and Planning Board to allow Hyatt Place to build six stories instead of four.
Smith railed against Ridgeland officials after that board March 6 recommended granting Hyatt a special exception and conditional use permit to continue building the six-story structure, calling the decision unjustified and accusing the city of “purposely circumventing their ordinances to allow this to go on or because they don’t have a zoning administrator and don’t know what they’re doing.”
Hyatt sought a conditional use permit to build six stories instead of four, the maximum height for buildings in that area of Colony Park. The hotel had already been built to six stories before the variance was requested.
ZONE member Janet Clark said before the March 18 vote the group would file an appeal if aldermen accepted the Zoning Board’s variance recommendation. However, no ZONE members attended the board meeting and no one opposed officials’ decision.