Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Colonial neighbors pack the house. Zoning committee postpones decision. Was there proper notice? (Updated with video)

The Jackson City Council's Zoning Committee postponed a decision on whether to redefine the Special Use classification to include mixed use.  The room was packed with Colonial Country Club neighbors who feared the owners of the site could effectively develop the property as commercial or mixed use without approval from the city under the new definitions.  They heartily applauded the council's decision as several members complained they were unaware that the proposed definitions would impact many properties through out the city.  The definitions were approved at a March 4 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission that was held without notice to the public.

Start at 18:00.

The commission was supposed to meet on February 25 but the meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather.  The re-zoning decision for the Colonial site was on the agenda but postponed to the March 25 meeting.  However, the commission met on March 4 and voted on several items.

However, there was no notice posted about the March 4 meeting.  Ordinances require the city to publish all such notices in the Mississippi LinkJJ obtained the last three issues of the Mississippi Link and found no such notice about the March 4 meeting was published although the newspaper did publish one about the March 25 meeting in the current edition.  Despite this omission, city attorney Azande Williams  and Planning Director Eric Jefferson both told the committee that the notice was published.  Several speakers who addressed the council corrected her statement.   February 26-March 4 edition of the Mississippi Link.

The commission approved at the March 4 meeting several "text amendments".  Such amendments are not zoning actions but a change in language and definitions (See  page 5 in amendments posted below.).   The changes generated no small amount of controversy as they seem to include mixed-use as part of the Special Use classification.  The proposed amendment does state that a special use property that is over five acres can include mixed-use. 

Zoning Administrator Esther Ainsworth said the proposed amendment would not apply to the Colonial site as it was already engaged in the re-zoning process.  However, several council members said they didn't realize the proposal would be so far reaching and were not comfortable with approving such a change in the definitions. 

Kingfish note: There is no way to sugarcoat it.  The city did not publish any notice about the March 4 meeting anywhere. What is more disturbing is representatives repeatedly asserted that the required notice was published.  Councilman Ashby Foote suggested that the city should go beyond the required publication in a local newspaper and also post the notices on the city website in a prominent location.  The other council members agreed with him.    If the notices were not published, then there is a serious question as to whether any action taken by the commission on March 4 is even valid. Frankly, it was physically impossible to post the notice 15 days prior to the meeting as required by law as the decision to hold the meeting was made after February 25.

See page 5.


Anonymous said...

Here is an idea, why doesn't the city buy the property, close the Sonny Guy "golf course" on Woodrow Wilson and make colonial into a public course.

The last time I played golf at the public course on Woodrow Wilson, some kid stole my ball and then tried to sell it back to me.

Anonymous said...

Until the residents are able to match the bribe that the zoning committee is receiving elsewhere, their arguments will be falling on deaf ears.

Anonymous said...

This goes way beyond the Colonial area. If this zoning law passed ALL special use districts in the City could have commercial uses. This would really gut planning and zoning within the City of Jackson. Thousands of areas all over the city totally unprotected.

Anonymous said...

So basically we have Esther and Eric on the record (via video) saying that the notice was issued for March 4. Can we push them further on this? I am ecstatic about the results yesterday but I would love to see them held accountable where accountability is due. It's one thing to hold a meeting with no notice but to boldly say there was a notice is despicable.

Anonymous said...

Forget all this mess and move to Madison!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to emphasize 12:50's observation. Many schools, churches, and non-profits in Jackson are zoned special use and are sitting in residential neighborhoods. Under the "new" rule, these could be demolished and replaced with commercial, business or residential with no public input. Think about your church or kid's school and imagine what could happen. This rule would create a wide open opportunity for almost any type of development. Please contact your council person and educate them.


Anonymous said...

12:58, does a public official telling a lie to cover up not following a State law carry any criminal charges?

Anonymous said...

Mississippi as most states allows for zoning of property but has standards that must be met.If this crazy law was passed, lawyers would be fighting each other to take this case.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean the city's attempt to bulldoze Smith-Wills and adjacent parks is back open again? That debate also hinged on special-use. Would the Colonial Country Club debate affect that debate too?

Anonymous said...

Get out now while you are still alive!!

Anonymous said...


I think you've hit the nail on the head.

Anonymous said...

Reading the PDF points to another problem:

The Special Use lot coverage is changed for Mixed Use development to unlimited. That means the site can be covered by buildings from corner to corner with no restrictions. The only requirement is a 5% buffer. The existing ordinance required 45% open space.

Anonymous said...

Seems like anyone in this neighborhood who was concerned about property values would have left a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

2:39 Smith-Wills is a different situation. Apparently the original donation by the state of land to be used for a park or other public use had a claw-back provision so that if the city ever tries to use it for any other purpose the tile reverts to the state. SOS Hosemann has stated he will enforce that provision if they try a stunt like that.

Anonymous said...

Too bad more of the City is not under some kind of State control. That is only way to keep this bunch from giving the ranch away.

Pass The Popcorn said...

Suggesting that churches might be bulldozed is an example of pure idiocy. The city has several old church properties (see capitol street) that SHOULD be bulldozed, but no services are still held at them. This suggestion is pure damned nutty on its face.

Around These Parts said...

"Giving the ranch away"? It's Tombstone, Dude. Nothing left to give away but mud-ruts, tumbleweeds and closed up saloons.

Trust lands are not all tide lands... said...

3:46, yes King Dilbert did declare what 'he' would do about Smith Wills. Once again his overstepping what his authority allows. Deed restrictions are one thing - but last time I checked, public property and its control are not all vested in Dilbert's reign.

But - since he wants to be the final arbitrator of all that is right, maybe he should decide what to do with Colonial. Yes - its not property of the state, but hell, why not. He's tried to step in and claim other properties as being under his control. Just check out the MS Gulf Coast court dockets.

Anonymous said...


Remember the church that was at the corner of County Line and Old Canton across from the Jackson Country Club. It was bulldozed and replaced with a dollar store. The property was zoned commercial so no one could stop it.

A similar attempt was made at the church on the SW corner of Pear Orchard and Old Canton. Because that was zoned Special Use, the community and city were able to stop it. The proposed change would allow that change with no public input.

Anonymous said...

Per the Clarion-Ledger, this effort would absolutely have affected Smith-Wills as well as Colonial. I'm disappointed that the city keeps trying to quietly remove zoning protections. If the city government and the mayor's office wants to turn all of Jackson's special use land in every neighborhood into commercial development, then just say so and let the public have their say in response. And it might be good for the city to give us an idea of who precisely intends to develop the city's available special use land. It's difficult to trust the city's plans if we don't know about them in the first place.

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