Rezoning of Cordova Triangle in Germantown returns to court with updated complaint

By Published: December 12, 2018 5:11 PM CT

The Owen family, owners of the majority of Germantown’s Cordova Triangle, have taken legal action regarding the city rescinding a previous decision allowing commercial use on the 20-acre site.

In October, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen rezoned the 19.77 acres from T4 urban zoning, where commercial uses are allowed, back to residential.  The Jack R. Owen Revocable Trust is listed as the owner for 13.68 acres of the land, commonly known as the Owen tract.

Alderwoman Mary Anne Gibson requested city staff look at rezoning the land to single-family residential during a January board meeting. During the meeting, aldermen approved an 18-month apartment moratorium, which expires in July.

The rezoning by the board came after the Owen family took legal action in Shelby County Chancery Court against Germantown and its Planning Commission, which recommended the residential rezoning to the board.

In August, Chancellor Walter Evans ruled the court could not interfere with the city’s legislative process, and the suburb’s board proceeded with the rezoning. Petitioners challenged Evans’ ruling in the Court of Appeals. That challenge is “proceeding,” according to the family’s attorney, Rick Winchester. No hearing date has been set.

Nearly two months after the suburban board’s vote to rezone the Triangle, the Owen family filed a complaint against Germantown, the Planning Commission and the board.

The Cordova Triangle earned its name because of Cordova Road borders the west side of the property. Neshoba Road and Germantown Road form the other two sides of the designated site.

“T4 (urban zoning) is the highest and best use of the Triangle,” the complaint states.

The petitioners said that without a detailed sketch plan, the recent rezoning to residential was not allowed. The complaint by the Owen family also contends the rezoning was politically motivated as contentious mayoral and aldermanic elections approached in November.

The complaint challenged the Planning Commission’s approval process and said Germantown violated city policy by not submitting a sketch plan that complied with city ordinances, and the plan was not submitted to the board for approval.

During the rezoning process, Mayor Mike Palazzolo said the T4 zoning of the Triangle was “ill-advised,” but the complaint states there was not enough evidence to reasonably rezone the land.

As part of the city’s rezoning process, the board conducted three readings leading to the zoning change where Cameron Ross, director of economic and community development, said inactivity of the land over 11 years was justification to rezone. However, the petitioners said that Smart Growth – the reason the land was rezoned in 2007 – was part of a 20-year development plan.

The petitioners asked that a judge rule the rezoning illegal and unjustified and that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Planning Commission’s actions were “null” and “void.” The complaint also asked that future attempts with similar justifications to rezone the land be revoked.

Winchester, the Owen family attorney, would not comment Wednesday on the second lawsuit. Ed McKenney, who is representing Germantown, said he would soon file a response to the second complaint on behalf of the suburb.

<strong>Cordova Triangle is named for Cordova Road, the property's western border. Neshoba Road and Germantown Road form the other two sides of the tract.&nbsp;</strong>(Courtesy of the city of Germantown)

Cordova Triangle is named for Cordova Road, the property's western border. Neshoba Road and Germantown Road form the other two sides of the tract. (Courtesy of the city of Germantown)


Germantown Cordova Triangle Mike Palazzolo Smart Growth
Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren

Abigail Warren is a lifelong resident of Shelby County and a May 2018 graduate of the University of Memphis.  She has worked for several local publications and has covered Germantown since May 2018.

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