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WOODLAND HILLS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION, INC. v. CITY OF JACKSON and H. C. BAILEY COMPANY

DECEMBER 07, 1983

WOODLAND HILLS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION, INC.
v.
CITY OF JACKSON and H. C. BAILEY COMPANY



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., DAN LEE AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

This is a rezoning case. The Jackson City Council has enacted a rezoning ordinance which reclassifies a seven acre tract in the northwest quadrant of

 Lakeland Drive and Interstate Highway 55 from limited residential, R-1A and R-5, to general commercial, C-3.

 Woodland Hills Conservation Association, Inc., an organization of homeowners residing generally north and west of subject property, appealed to the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, which on November 24, 1982, affirmed. From that ruling, Woodland Hills has appealed to this Court.

 In zoning matters the Jackson City Council exercises powers generally legislative in nature. The scope of judicial review is accordingly restricted. The matter of whether the property in question should have been rezoned was fairly debatable. No objective observer could say that the City Council's decision was arbitrary, unreasonable or capricious. We affirm.

 II.

 A.

 This rezoning action concerns a seven acre tract of land in the City of Jackson, Mississippi. The property is situated generally in the northwest quadrant created by the intersection of Lakeland Drive and Interstate Highway 55. The property is on the north side of Lakeland Drive, across the street so to speak from St. Dominic's Hospital.

 Prior to the October 14, 1981, advent of these proceedings the subject property included three separate zoning classifications. See Map attached as an Appendix hereto. A strip fronting on Lakeland Drive was zoned R-5, multi-family residential. A small pocket bordering the frontage road between Lakeland and I-55 was similarly R-5. A landlocked rectangular area in the northern and northwestern portion of the seven acre tract has heretofore been zoned R-1A, single family residential. A part of the land in the southeast corner which borders both Lakeland Drive and the frontage road is presently C-3 - general commercial. The proponent has sought to have the entire area zoned C-3.

 The dominant zoning of land in this area is commercial. On the south side of the existing C-3 land is another C-3 area located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Lakeland Drive with the West Frontage Road adjacent to I-55 North (also known as University

 Drive). A combination Gulf service station and convenience store is operating thereon. Immediately to the north and northeast of the subject property is another C-3 area containing Doctors Hospital. (The attached map makes all of this much clearer than can words.)

 St Dominic's Hospital, which is located in a Special Use District, lies across Lakeland Drive to the southeast of the subject property. Located immediately to the west of St. Dominic's Hospital on the south side of Lakeland Drive is additional Special Use District land, owned by the University of Mississippi and vacant at this time. Immediately west of the subject property on the north side of Lakeland Drive is a relatively small R-5 Unlimited Multi-Family Residential tract containing the Parkview Arms Apartments, to the west of which lies a much larger commercial area zoned C-2, but including two small lots zoned C-1 and C-1A respectively. North of the western portion of the subject property are vacant lots zoned C-1 Restricted Commercial and R-1A Single-Family Residential. To the northwest of the subject property lies the Woodland Hills area zoned R-1A Single-Family Residential.

 The city planning department staff found the proposed C-3 development compatible with Jackson's 1974 comprehensive zoning ordinance. Specifically, the department found the proposed rezoning compatible with the adjacent R-5 and C-1 areas. A vacant R-1A lot on the north of the subject property was a landlocked tract which would buffer the proposed development from existing residential lots.

 The once residential Lakeland Drive has changed steadily over the years. In this area, it has become a major east-west thoroughfare. Since 1975 there have been eight separate commercial rezonings in the area.

 These are:

 REZONING CASE NO. DATE APPLICANT ACTION ------- ---- --------- --------

 1494 2/11/76 Bailey Mortgage Co. R-4 to C-1 1567 5/17/77 Humana of Miss., Inc. R-1A to C-3 1574 6/14/77 William O. Marble R-5 to C-1 1628 12/12/77 Paul K. Lackey R-5 to C-2 1782 5/21/79 Carroll & Thompson, Inc., R-5 to C-1

 and George R. Day 1783 5/09/79 Carroll & Thompson, Inc. R-1A to C-1 1956 12/18/80 Harold T. Whitley R-1A to C-2

 1959 12/19/80 W. Michael Vise and R-5 to C-1A

 Guy T. Vise

 Today, if one travels from Old Canton Road along the north side of Lakeland Drive to Interstate Highway 55 North, he will find no single-family residences. The entire strip now houses specialty shops (for example, Ississi, Frances Pepper, Fridge's Fireside Shop, and the Lamp House), apartments, and medical and dental offices.

 H. C. Bailey Company holds an option to purchase the seven acre tract in question. Bailey proposes to develop a general commercial complex that will include a hotel, twin office towers, and specialty shops. H. C. Bailey, Jr., applicant's president, outlined before the Zoning Committee his company's considerable experience in developing similar projects. He offered his opinion that there was a community need in Jackson for additional hotel space, office space, and retail shop space.

 Mr. Bailey estimated the costs of the proposed development to be $30-40 million. That sum would provide a significant building payroll for the local economy, generate considerable sales tax revenues, and produce a commercial complex that would generate substantial ad valorem taxes year after year. Mr. Bailey also pointed out that the subject property encompassed steeply sloping and uneven terrain, a fact which would make difficult development of the subject property under existing R-1A zoning classifications.

 Robert Parker Adams, a local architect retained by H. C. Bailey Company, has designed the proposed complex. He envisions a multi-level complex which would feature landscaping and open space on a plaza level having the same grade as Lakeland Drive, with parking decks underneath. These parking decks would not be visible from Lakeland Drive. As the site plan shows, there would be parking ingress and egress at three different points.

 The hotel and twin office towers would be oriented toward Interstate Highway 55 North and the West Frontage Road (University Drive), not toward Lakeland Drive. The main entrances to the hotel and the twin office towers would be from University Drive thereby avoiding interference with the traffic flow on Lakeland Drive.

 Before filing the rezoning application, representatives of H. C. Bailey Company visited" property owners up and down Glen Way "in the Woodland Hills area. They showed approximately twelve (but by no means all) area property owners the development plans and asked for comment. Negotiations ensued and produced a Protective Covenant Agreement. That agreement places a two-story height restriction on the western portion of the subject property. It provides for a landscaped 25-foot buffer strip on the north and west sides of the northwest corner. The agreement further requires a parking screen, compels the construction of an eight-foot solid wall or fence to conceal driving areas on the western portion of the subject property from residential lots to the northwest, and prohibits any building on the eastern portion of the subject property with a height greater than that of the height of nearby St. Dominic Hospital.

 Dr. E. Leonard Posey, Jr., a resident of the Woodland Hills neighborhood and a spokesman for several of his neighbors, explained to the Zoning Committee that H. C. Bailey Company had accepted virtually all of the covenant proposals made by neighborhood residents. Dr. Posey stated that, in view of the Protective Covenant Agreement, members of his group did not oppose the proposed rezoning.

 The Woodland Hills Conservation Association, Inc., Protestant below and Appellant here, representing 39 percent of the homeowners in the Woodland Hills area, strenuously opposes the C-3 rezoning generally and the Bailey Company's proposal development in particular. This group argues that the value of their residential properties will be negatively affected. They also expressed concern over the impact that the proposed development would have on traffic in the area.

 There is at this time daily a heavy traffic flow past the subject property on Lakeland Drive. This makes the subject property unsuitable for development under its present residential classifications. The proposed development does not connect in any way with residential streets in the Woodland Hills neighborhood. It seems unlikely that proposed development will increase traffic flow within Woodland Hills.

 B.

 On October 14, 1981, H. C. Bailey Company filed

 its rezoning application with the Jackson City Planning Board. After due notice to all interested parties, the application was heard by the Zoning Committee on November 12, 1981. At the conclusion of the hearing, by a vote of 6 to 0, the Zoning Committee recommended to the parent City Planning Board that the application of H. C. Bailey Company to rezone all the subject property to a classification of C-3 General Commercial be approved.

 The full City Planning Board met on November 25, 1981, and by a vote of 8 to 2, concurred with the Zoning Committee and recommended to the Jackson City Council ...


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