August 6, 2008

Bay Village Vote is Close: Project Approved, Others Disapprove

By Mary Perez, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Aug. 6--BILOXI -- The final vote was 4-3 in favor of Bay Village, but City Attorney Michael Collins said he doesn't expect that to be the final word.

"No matter how this comes out, this is going to the Circuit Court," Collins told the council, and possibly to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The council room was packed during the Tuesday night meeting, and residents and council members argued both sides. Tom Wall, George Lawrence and David Fayard sided with the neighbors who said Bay Village doesn't fit the neighborhood and the zoning request is too drastic.

Councilman Edward Gemmill countered that Biloxi needs the mixed-use housing and commercial project. Council President Bill Stallworth said he decided to support the project on Pass Road if the developers went back through the planning process with a list of changes requested by Wall.

"They complied with all of these," said Stallworth.

The council decided, again by a 4-3 vote, that a super majority of five councilmen wasn't needed for the zoning change to pass.

Collins said the state Supreme Court ruled in Fondres vs. Jackson that the neighbors must submit a map to the planning commission showing that a majority of the adjacent property owners were against the project to evoke a super majority vote.

In three meetings Tuesday, the council also:

--Held a workshop to consider whether Katrina cottages should be allowed as permanent structures if they meet zoning requirements and are individually approved by the Planning Commission, Architectural and Historical Review Commission and City Council. No vote was taken.

--Denied a subdivision for Timber Creek Estates, a tax credit project in Woolmarket, despite learning Gov. Haley Barbour warned that the federal government will take back the funding for affordable housing if these type of projects aren't approved.

--Learned that a meeting will be held this week to determine if the Maritime & Seafood Museum board members will agree to occupying a city-built combined museum for the Seafood Museum, Katrina Museum and Mardi Gras Museum on the Tullis site adjacent to the Ohr Museum of Art.

--Learned that construction of the Lighthouse Park and Visitors' Center may begin by early 2009.

--Voted to demolish the Biloxi Library/O'Keefe Cultural Center at 139 Lameuse St.


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