RIDGELAND - A comprehensive plan for the Colony Park development along Highland Colony Parkway is in the preliminary stages after developer H.C. "Buster" Bailey held meetings with city aldermen recently to discuss the matter.

The plan, which could become an "overlay district" similar to the Olde Towne development on Jackson Street, could govern everything from building height to landscaping, green space and traffic control and could be ready by early summer, according to Mayor Gene McGee.

The goal would be to create strong but flexible guidelines for smart development in Colony Park, a $500 million, 450-acre development that stretches from Old Agency Road to Lake Castle Road along the Parkway.

But some residents living west of the Parkway, many of whom opposed the 13-story office building at 200 Renaissance developed by Bailey and approved last year, remain skeptical about Bailey's willingness to open up such a plan to public input and debate.

Bailey initially raised the idea of creating a comprehensive plan for Colony Park last October, after the 13-story building set to house the Butler Snow law firm and Horne CPA Group was approved by city aldermen in a controversial vote.

At the time, he said he hoped such a plan would be approved in six months and desired a great deal of public input from residential areas.

"After the experience of this building (the high-rise), we see that as our very next order of business," Bailey said last October. "We don't want to be at odds with the neighbors."

On Tuesday, Bailey said a comprehensive development plan for Colony Park is being developed but declined to comment on the criteria being considered.

He did say extensive public input and comment will be collected before any such plan or overlay district was finalized and presented.

"You cannot create such a district without public input, and we would not plan to do so," Bailey said.

Unlike McGee, Bailey declined to place a timeline on the comprehensive plan's progress.

Ward 1 Alderman Ken Heard, who represents several neighborhoods west of the Parkway and voted against the 13-story building, said he thinks Bailey will be open to public scrutiny and questions of any Colony Park plans but wants to see what standards Bailey would agree to.

"This is something he said he would do to avoid having to get every building approved for the rest of his life," Heard said. "I want to see what he's willing to lock down."

An overlay district, as with Olde Towne, places additional architectural and geographical constraints on existing zoning. It can cover landscaping, green space, pedestrian access, and other quality of life issues.

McGee said zoning ordinances are important but cannot anticipate every opportunity presented to Ridgeland. Some additional planning, such as overlay districts, is sometimes required.

"I know they would like to have an overlay district sometime this summer," he said. "I would hope by June or July they could have a plan formulated so that a public hearing could be held."

North of Steed Road, McGee said, the possibility existed that some eight- to ten-story buildings could be a part of Colony Park, but added that such buildings were far from certainties.

District 3 Supervisor D.I. Smith, a Dinsmor resident who supported 200 Renaissance last year, said the idea of a national corporate headquarters locating to the area may not be anticipated now but should be welcomed if the opportunity arises and the economic situation is suited to it.

"The economics have just got to work perfectly to allow it to be a money-making situation," Smith said. "There's virtually no one who can just go down and build a lot of high-rise buildings."

Some local residents, however, are worried that Bailey will be eager to construct other buildings like 200 Renaissance that will anger neighborhoods.

Carolyn McIntyre, who lives near Richardson Road, said a previous negative experience with Renaissance at Colony Park still lingers and creates distrust for many residents who would be impacted by a Colony Park overlay district.

She referred to an attempt last August by Bailey and developer Andrew Mattiace to re-zone Renaissance to a C-6 designation, which would have eliminated the requirement of public hearings on certain building projects.

Bailey and Mattiace withdrew their request after protests from residents.

McIntyre said she understood that Bailey might have to change certain portions of his plans as circumstances dictate, but wanted more openness and accountability from Ridgeland officials.

"We don't want to know after the fact, or when it's done. The city has to be more (transparent)," she said. "They need to publicize it more. They know we have concerned neighbors out here."