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Waiver denied by commission for package shop

The town of Ridgeland Planning Commission recently voted unanimously to deny a waiver request from a local businessman seeking to operate a package store on property not originally intended for that purpose.

Harsh Patel and contractor LeGrande Lowther went before the commission during its Oct. 2 meeting seeking a waiver on the zoning of Patel’s property at 11133 North Jacob Smart Boulevard.

“We have been trying to get through this process since June and we ask that you rezone this area to allow Patel to have a package store in the location,” Lowther said.

Town of Ridgeland Planning Director Joshua Rowland said staff did not recommend approval of the request because the town did not think it was the best use of the building, adding that it is within close proximity of a park. He said staff also took into account the number of package stores already within town limits.

“My understanding of our responsibility is that it is not permitted use, but it could be approved under a warrant if the use is consistent with the original intent of the zoning, and I haven’t heard anything to tell me that’s the case,” commission member Ralph Rodina said. “I don’t think this application is consistent with the intent of the zoning, which is a request to the waiver to the zoning. I haven’t heard anything that warrants a waiver.”

Commission member Frankie Denmark said as much as he does not want to see a package store in that location, the request should have been given consideration with stipulations.

Three citizens appeared to voice their concerns about the request.

“This particular store is right next to a retirement community and these folks are not happy about this,” Barbara Bartoldus said. “They are not happy that there would be cars pulling in there all times of the day and night. It’s a retirement community; they just had to put a fence up because they have had problems there. I would really wish you would consider not allowing this liquor store to take place. I think it would be a detriment to the town.”

Dorothy Coulter, who owns Dot’s Red Dot store and has been a Ridgeland resident since she was 9, expressed her concern about so many package stores being near one another. She asked the commission to deny the request.

Dennis Averkin asked the commission to consider denying the request, as he and others would be conducting a golf clinic for children in Turpin Park near the property.

Patel said he has owned the property since November 2016, but he had not consulted with the town about whether he could open a package store.

“The codes are written for various reasons and it would be wise to consult the town first before purchasing property to see how you might be impacted by the codes,” Commission Chairman William Fishburne said. “The codes have been in place since 2010 and you should consult the town to find out what your options are.”

Fishburne said if a person seeking a zoning change does not receive approval, they can go before the Board of Zoning and Appeals to have their case heard.

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