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BELHAVEN IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC. v. THE CITY OF JACKSON AND THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF JACKSON

MARCH 18, 1987

BELHAVEN IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION, INC.
v.
THE CITY OF JACKSON AND THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, ROBERTSON and ANDERSON

ROY NOBLE LEE, PRESIDING JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Introduction and Facts

This is an appeal by the Belhaven Improvement Association, Inc. (hereinafter" BIA "), from the March 4, 1985, order of the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi. That order denied BIA's motion to reconsider the Circuit Court November 21, 1984, order which dismissed BIA's appeal to the circuit court of a rezoning decision made by the City of Jackson (hereinafter" City "). The circuit court gave the following reason for its order dismissing BIA's appeal:

 I.

 The Belhaven Improvement Association, Inc., lacks standing to bring this Appeal because it is not a" person aggrieved "by the decision of the City Council of Jackson, Mississippi, rezoning the property located at 747 Belhaven Street, Jackson, Mississippi. The Belhaven Improvement Association, Inc. is not a" person aggrieved "because it does not own, nor does it have an interest in, property which is or may be affected by the rezoning of the property at 747 Belhaven Street.

 II.

 The Court does not consider nor does it rule upon the other grounds raised in the motion to dismiss filed by the Intervenor/Appellee, because the Court's determination that the Association does not own, nor does it have an interest in, property affected by the rezoning is dispositive.

 On February 15, 1984, the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, MS (hereinafter" Church "), filed with the Zoning and Sign Administration of the City Planning Board an application seeking to rezone the property at 747 Belhaven St., commonly known as the" Overstreet House, "from R-2 to Special Use Religious Institution District, together with a

 variance for a second tract of land which is not involved in this appeal. The City Planning Board Rezoning Request Investigation and Report showed that the lot at 747 Belhaven St. is an elevated residential lot and that its abutting uses on the north, south and east are single-family, and, on the west, church gym.

 A hearing was set on the Church's rezoning application for March 8, 1984, before the Zoning Hearing Committee of the City Planning Board. Prior to the hearing date, the Jackson City Planning Board received a number of letters from people who live in close proximity to the tract of land in question, in opposition to the rezoning. Three Belhaven residents appeared before the Zoning Hearing Committee and spoke in opposition to the Church's application, including attorney Mike Farrell who appeared representing members of the neighborhood and BIA. At no time was the participation of BIA questioned.

 Among the exhibits introduced at the March 8 hearing by the protestors were a petition signed by 13 Belhaven residents opposing the rezoning; a second petition signed by 32 Belhaven residents opposing the rezoning; and a separate written statement opposing the rezoning. Among the exhibits introduced by the Church at the hearing were statements of support for the Church's application signed by Belhaven residents. The record contains 129 statements of support for the rezoning of the Overstreet property from Belhaven families who are members of the First Presbyterian Church, another eighteen (18) statements of support from Belhaven families with children attending First Presbyterian Day School, and twenty-two (22) statements of support from Belhaven families who are either non-parents or parents of children not yet school age. There are two hundred forty-one (241) families in the Church who live in Belhaven. It was the opinion of the Assistant City Planning Director and her staff that the property should not be rezoned to a special use classification. However, the Zoning Hearing Committee voted 4-2 to recommend the approval of the rezoning.

 The decision of the Zoning Hearing Committee was followed by a number of letters from Belhaven residents to the Jackson City Planning Board in opposition to the Church's proposed rezoning. At a meeting held on March 28, 1984, the Jackson City Planning Board voted 7-3 to recommend denial of rezoning the property at 747 Belhaven.

 The Church sought action from the Jackson City Council to reject the March 28, 1984, recommendation of the City Planning Board. At a May 23, 1984, meeting, the Jackson

 City Council took up for consideration the Church's request for rezoning. Attorney Mike Farrell again spoke on behalf of BIA and a number of Belhaven residents. The participation of BIA was not objected to. The Church has stated that the exterior of the Overstreet house will be restored and the interior rehabilitated, that it will house the kindergarten temporarily and that it will then be utilized by the Church's Christian education program and the Church's Boy Scout troop. BIA did not object to a temporary rezoning.

 At its July 3, 1984, meeting, the Jackson City Council voted to grant that part of the Church's petition which sought to have the property at 747 Belhaven rezoned and changed from R-2 (single-family and two-family) residential district to special use/religious institutions ...


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