By The Associated Press
JACKSON — The Mississippi Supreme Court has ordered the city of Batesville to take another look at a request from Memphis Stone and Gravel to operate a gravel pit in the southern part of the town.
The Supreme Court on Thursday reversed earlier decisions by the state Court of Appeals and a Panola County judge.
Justice Ann Lamar said the court could not determine from the record of the case how the city reached the conclusion that the gravel pit would be legal.
Lamar said the board of aldermen should allow opponents and Memphis Stone to present evidence to support their positions. She said aldermen should then provide more specifics on whatever conclusion it reaches.
Scott and Mona Harrison, who live near the area where the pit would be located along Mississippi Highway 35, appealed the city’s decision to grant the temporary zoning variance to the company.
After a Panola County judge sided with the city, the Harrisons appealed again. Last fall, the Appeals Court reversed the circuit court’s decision, finding the city’s action constituted “illegal spot zoning.”
Afterward, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.
The land is currently zoned agricultural and Memphis Stone needed the special exception permit to mine and wash gravel, and sell it at the site.
Batesville officials said the variance given Memphis Stone did not constitute spot zoning.
The Appeals Court, in a split decision last fall, said it was clear that the variance favored Memphis Stone and excluded others. The court said Batesville’s zoning ordinance does not permit mining where Memphis Stone wants to locate.
Others on the Appeals Court said the city’s decision was based on the benefit it would receive from having a gravel mining operation nearby.