RIDGELAND - A conditional use permit was granted to Gateway Rescue Mission to open a retail thrift shop at the old Cort Furniture building off Ridgewood Road.

Gateway is a Jackson-based Christian ministry to the homeless that operates thrift stores in Pearl, Clinton and Magee. They have housing and food assistance at other locations.

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen voted 4-3 in favor of the permit, with a number of restrictions, after the Planning and Zoning board denied the petition 3-2.

Aldermen Chuck Gautier, Brian Ramsey, Scott Jones and Wesley Hamlin voted for approval. Aldermen Ken Heard, Kevin Holder and D.I. Smith voted against.

Heard said he applauded Gateway's efforts but that the retail operation wasn't part of the vision of the future.

"It just gets back to me seeing if we're being consistent with what we've always stated with the types of businesses we attract," he said. "There's a fair number of these."

He added, "So, I'm just not in favor of this."

Gautier said that there is more of a trend for people these days to repurpose clothes and he's convinced that Gateway will run a first-class operation that brings dollars to the city.

"This is gonna be a good-looking facility," he said. "I haven't seen any problems with the facilities that are thrift stores now. I think it's a good use considering it's currently zoned industrial. I'm convinced they could have easily come in and be less forthright."

Community Development Director Alan Hart told members the Zoning Board denied the request in a 3-2 vote but advised members they can put conditions "to alleviate concerns" surrounding businesses had.

Some of those include dropping off items in the parking lot over the weekend and loitering.

At the P&Z meeting, several area businesses voiced their disapproval of the project.

Rick Dallas of Dallas Auto Painting & Collision Repair owns a body shop adjacent to the loading dock of the Gateway store. He was worried about drop-offs and vagrants sifting through trash.

Sam Morris of Morris Marketing and Marc Koenigsberger of Ridgeland Auto World both also spoke against the proposed shop.

However, the Ridgeland city board approved the permit with multiple conditions, including:

• Making improvements to existing landscape and lighting;

• Installing gates to the main access during closed hours with signage deterring drop-offs;

• Painting the building front;

• Prohibiting outdoor sales and displays;

• Providing measures such as a security guard to control loitering;

• Prohibiting parking of delivery vehicles that display signage;

• Prohibit operating a soup kitchen and housing.

Mayor Gene F. McGee lauded Gateway for adhering to the conditions set forth and recommended approval of the project

The hours of operation of the retail operation will be Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m. during summer and daylight savings months and 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. during winter months.

In other city news:

• The board approved a site/architectural plan for Methodist Rehabilitation's building off Jackson Street.

• Approved a variance in the Blue Law for Northpark Mall's holiday hours.

• Approved a contract with Southern Financial Systems Inc. to collect past due money for the city.

• Approved collection of $6,000 from businesses so the police department can by TASER guns.

• Approved trading in six confiscated weapons for police issue weapons.