New development gets green light

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The two year battle between a Texas developer and one South Mississippi city is over. After Tuesday's 4-3 council vote, Realtex Development Corporation will be allowed to build another affordable housing community in the city of Gulfport.

"This property is zoned for this purpose and that's the promise the city makes to a developer like Realtex, and the city has kept it's promise," said Virgil Gillespie, the attorney representing Realtex.

For the past two years, the planning commission and the city council told Realtex it could not build the 194 unit complex on East Deadeux Road. The constant denials even sparked a complaint from Mississippi's Region Eight.

Now the planning commission and four of Gulfport's council members had a change of heart.

In November 2008, the new planning commission gave the project the green light. At a special meeting Tuesday, four of Gulfport's council members decided to follow the lead of the planning commission.

"I just think that they think this project has been going on too long and they want to just get it out of the way, is what I feel," said Ward 6 councilman Neil Resh.

Some council members say that's not the case. Councilman Gary Holliman said he is pleased with the way other Realtex properties have developed.

But Resh says aesthetics aren't the problem.

"It's in a bad location," said Resh. "It's in a flood zone and it doesn't need to be there."

Residents agree.

"It will be adjacent to my property. It will be in my backyard," said Linda Hill-Huggard.

Some residents have pleaded with the city to stick to their guns and not allow Sandstone Villas. They say the complex will make existing drainage and traffic problems even worse.

"We had a traffic study made. We had drainage studies made," said Gillespie. "This is what we hear in every one of these cases. The residents want to get up and talk about how the streets aren't adequate, the drainage isn't adequate when, in fact, all these things are shown by good engineering studies to be non-issues."

Gary Holliman, Libby Milner-Roland, Brian Carreire, and Jackie Smith voted in favor of Sandstone Villas. Neil Resh, Ella Holmes-Hines and Barbara Nalley voted against the development.

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