June 19, 2019 11:17:57 AM
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi Court of Appeals will not rehear a case opposing the rezoning of land for an industrial park in north Starkville.
On Tuesday, the court issued a decision denying a motion to rehear the case against the park, which was filed by property owners who own land near its Highway 383 location. The court originally ruled in favor of the city of Starkville's rezoning in January.
A document provided to The Dispatch by the Golden Triangle Development LINK, simply says "the motion for rehearing is denied."
The industrial park, which is scheduled to be completed later this year, sits on about 400 acres of land north of the Highway 82-Highway 389 intersection in north Starkville. The LINK, which is developing the site, filed an application for rezoning about 360 acres from general business and residential to industrial in December 2016.
Aldermen approved the rezoning in January 2017.
Nearby property owners -- LMK LLC, Bettye Bell, Mary S. Bell, Margaret Copeland and Laura B. White -- appealed the decision to Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, where Judge Jim Kitchens affirmed the decision in May 2017.
The property owners then appealed the matter to the Mississippi Supreme Court, which remanded it to the Court of Appeals. Owners argued, according to the court's January ruling, the LINK "failed to support its rezoning application with clear and convincing evidence and that the rezoning failed to comply with the city's comprehensive plan."
White, speaking to the Dispatch, said the case will soon move on to the Supreme Court.
"Our lawyer has been baffled at why it took so long," she said. "Our attorneys are already preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court."
The industrial park is nearing completion. However, it has been limited in how much it can be marketed to potential businesses with the court case hanging over it.
Mayor Lynn Spruill said she hopes the case will soon wind down, which will allow officials to move ahead with marketing the site.
"There's only one more step that can be taken," she said. "I believe the Supreme Court will deny it once again. I believe this will be the final gasp of those who are trying to slow the project down or stop it altogether. I think we'll be able to move forward quickly as soon as the Supreme Court rules and market it to its fullest."
LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins said in an issued statement the LINK is also hoping for a quick conclusion to the case.
"We are pleased with this progress," Higgins said. "If the appellants ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to consider the appeal, we are hoping for a quick denial. The Mississippi Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to hear this case a year ago, and as nothing material has changed in the situation, we anticipate that they will decline to hear it again.
"The longer this takes, the more damage it does to Starkville and Oktibbeha County's opportunity to grow and see a return on their investment," he added.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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