Madison city leaders to appeal county decision rezoning Bozeman Family property

The family is seeking to rezone approximately 350 acres from SU-1 to commercial.
The family is seeking to rezone approximately 350 acres from SU-1 to commercial.(Madison County Board of Supervisors)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 1:15 PM CDT
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MADISON, Miss. (WLBT) - Madison County supervisors’ decision to rezone some 350 acres of property along Bozeman Road will soon land them in court.

On Tuesday, the Madison mayor and board of aldermen approved bringing on an attorney to file an appeal of the county’s decision to rezone the property along the future Reunion Parkway extension from a special use district to C2 commercial.

The vote comes just one day after supervisors granted the request from the Minnie J. Bozeman Family Limited Partnership, despite continued opposition from the city and from residents.

“We’re working on the appeal paperwork right now and plan to file it next week,” attorney Michael Bentley said.

The appeal will be filed in Madison County Circuit Court.

The city came out in opposition to the rezoning earlier this year, with Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler saying the property was located within her city’s path of growth.

The city filed annexation papers to take in approximately four square miles of territory north of its current city limits in May. That territory includes the Bozeman acreage.

Bentley said the city’s suit likely will include the same objections it raised during a public hearing on the Bozeman request last month.

According to a letter submitted to the board on May 16, the city argued that the rezoning was not needed because “no such commercial uses exist on or within the immediate vicinity of this rural land.”

The 350 acres are located between Bozeman Road and I-55 North. The property currently is used for agricultural purposes, but likely will be opened up for commercial development with the Reunion Parkway expansion project.

The city also alleges that the county agreed to rezone the land in exchange for right-of-way for the project.

The Reunion expansion will include the construction of a new stretch of the parkway from where it now dead ends into Bozeman to the interstate.

The state, meanwhile, is expected to construct an interchange along the interstate after the Reunion flyover bridge is built.

Approximately 35 acres of right-of-way were needed for the project to go forward. The land was valued at $1.4 million.

Under terms of a memorandum of understanding, the county paid the partnership $965,000 for the acreage. The partnership will return those funds once the parkway expansion is completed, the agreement states.

“Mississippi law does not permit a governing body to bargain away its zoning power by committing to the developers’ preferred zoning changes,” attorney Erin Saltaformaggio told supervisors. “It has to engage in the public process required by the zoning ordinances and state law.”

The letter points to minutes from the February 2023 planning and zoning meeting to back up their claims.

According to those minutes, “Mr. Espy confirmed that Madison County had agreed to assist in the rezoning of the subject property in order for the applicant to make commercial use of the property and had provided [the] applicant with information on the planned roadway and ramps that would traverse his property.”

Espy is the attorney for the Madison County Board of Supervisors. He, Board President Gerald Steen, and Richard Skinner, an agent for the partnership, have all denied any deal was made.

A copy of the planning and zoning minutes from the February meeting is posted below.

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