The federal government is taking a close look at the city of Ridgeland and its leadership.
HUD is reviewing a detailed complaint that city officials are trying to rezone the city to kick the bulk of the minority population out of town.
A lawyer for one of the apartment complexes says the city of Ridgeland is working to completely shut down some apartments in south east Ridgeland and the people who live there will be left without a place to stay.
Jackie Smith owns Little Dreamers Daycare. She has been in this southeast Ridgeland building for 15 years.
Most of the children, who come here, live across the street in one of these five apartment complexes.
Smith says she didn’t know city leaders considered rezoning this area and shutting down these multi- family homes.
“As a business owner you would think we would have a heads up on any changes that would take place,” Smith said.
In a February 2016 complaint filed by a Ridgeland family in the Baymeadows Apartments says the city sought to conceal its efforts from the general population.
“I want to make some phone calls; I would really like to know if there are meetings that are taking place I’d like to be informed that’s its taking place,” Smith said.
HUD says Ridgeland acquired the area from the city of Jackson between 1990 and 2010, southeast Ridgeland’s demographics shifted dramatically.
The city notes “demographics” a *key problem” with Ridgeland Public Schools, specifically Ann Smith Elementary.
In February of 2009, the Ridgeland family says both residents and school administrators expressed concerns in a community awareness meeting “about the image and perception of Ridgeland’s shifting demographics.”
I noticed the city is working on a “master plan”, it’s been years in the making; you can find the 2012 progress report online and Officials say they will “rezone as required.”
This is the community development department.
HUD says Mayor Gene McGee and the Board of Alderman selected an all-white “community awareness committee”, despite the fact that Ridgeland is 30 percent black, and despite the fact that their “master plan” focused on a majority black part of town.
Ridgeland leaders say “the city’s growth has brought about the need for a greater emphasis on comprehensive planning and code enforcement to ensure a high quality of life”.
The Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity argues the team began enforcing their tough codes when marketing the southeast area for redevelopment.
WJTV’s Brittany Noble-Jones went to city hall to speak with Mayor McGee about the plan.
He would not talk because of “pending litigation.”
In their complaint, the Ridgeland family just wants a “final judgement” and an order from the court to stop the city from rezoning.
Source: WJTV News 12