Judge: Tupelo acted properly in OK of affordable apartments

Published 11:45 am Saturday, January 21, 2023

A judge in north Mississippi has ruled that the city of Tupelo acted properly in approving plans for construction of an affordable-housing apartment complex.

Lee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Funderburk issued the ruling Thursday, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

In August, the Tupelo City Council voted 4-3 to approve site plans and development for the 46-unit apartment complex called Flowerdale Commons.

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Several residents of nearby Cottonwood Estates subdivision, some business owners and another developer appealed the city’s decision to the circuit court.

Funderburk wrote that the Tupelo development code “unequivocally” allows apartment development within mix-use-employment districts, which the area is zoned as, without extra requirements.

The judge disagreed that apartments had to be tied to employment facilities. He ruled that since apartments are secondary use, the project meets the “purpose and intent” in the code that encourages medium-density residential housing.

It was not immediately clear whether those who challenged the city’s decision would ask the Mississippi Court of Appeals to overturn Funderburk’s ruling.

The newspaper reported that Mississippi Center for Justice filed a court brief in December, supporting the city council’s decision to approve plans for the apartment complex.

“Too many in Lee County and across Mississippi are struggling to get by and afford rent, and there is a shortage of decent and safe housing,” Paloma Wu, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney, said in a statement. “All Mississippians deserve access to affordable housing.”