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A closer look at the MPC/Wicklow Farms development meeting

Submitted by Katie Martin on Mon, 02/29/2016 - 11:10am

Last week's decision by the Metropolitan Planning Commission to approve the general site plan for the Shops at Wicklow Farms - the site of Johnny Harris Restaurant - even with loud disapproval from the public left many people visibly frustrated, angry and confused.

Basically, the MPC had a legal obligation to approve the plan as long as it wasn't breaking any laws or zoning ordinances. In order for the plan to have been (legally) denied someone would have to prove that the planning shopping center is not meeting standard requirements and legally not up to code.

The MPC provides an information sheet at each meeting. An excerpt reads:

"If the requirements of the ordinance are met, the MPC Board must approve the application. To deny an application, it must be shown by the MPC Board or staff or by comments from the audience, how the requirements that are stated in the law are not met."

If they MPC had denied the plan based on the public opposition it opens the door for the developer to sue.

Another point of frustration was the fact that talk of saving Johnny Harris Restaurant wasn't heard by the board. Why?

The MPC has no jurisdiction over the building - They weren't deciding whether or not the building should be saved. And while approving the plan does all but ensure the building will be torn down, the owners have made it clear that they'll do that even if this deal falls through.

If talk of saving the building had been allowed it wouldn't have been enough to make a legal impact on the board's decision.

It’s obvious that some members of the board are still learning the ropes, which can make things a little rocky, but everything that happened at Tuesday's meeting was pretty standard procedure. 

We've been with this story since it started in September - Catch up on what's been going on here:

Developer eyes land surrounding Savannah resturant Johnny Harris 

Proposed Johnny Harris site development clears rezoning hurdle

Savannah City Council OKs zoning change for Victory Drive development

Residents fight to save Johnny Harris building

Deal or no deal: Savannah's Johnny Harris to fall

Savannah's Johnny Harris: What's next?

Shops OK'd at Johnny Harris site