LDO is "nuts and bolts" of Biloxi development - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

LDO is "nuts and bolts" of Biloxi development

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It will help guide development in Biloxi for the next 20 years. City leaders are wrapping-up a series of public hearings on a proposed Land Development Ordinance.

The ordinance addresses a wide range of development concerns and requirements. It includes everything from zoning designations, to parking space requirements,to tree protection measures.

One focus of the ordinance overhaul is to make it more user friendly for developers. 

Biloxi residents got a close-up look at proposed zoning maps and heard a presentation from planning consultants during a Tuesday morning public hearing at the community center on Howard Avenue.

Revising the Land Development Ordinance is the city's follow-up to passing a new comprehensive plan.

"And this is the complementary document that actually has the nuts and bolts about how development occurs. Setbacks. Variances. Zoning changes and zoning district," explained Jerry Creel, the city's community development director.

One important goal is to simplify the ordinance. David Washer chairs the Biloxi Planning Commission.

"What we're trying to do is make things more user friendly. A little easier for the developers, the individual citizens to move through and make changes without the complexity of what the previous ordinance was," Washer said.

The heart of the Land Development Ordinance sets specific standards for future residential or commercial developments. Those specifics might include things like protecting trees, providing parking spaces or even creating more pedestrian friendly developments.

Parking requirements for downtown development would, for the first time, include a "payment in lieu of" provision.

"Instead of providing all the required parking spaces, the developer can make a payment to the city that the city would then use to actually construct a parking lot or parking deck in the downtown area that would serve multiple uses," said Steve Sizemore, a planning consultant for the city.

Stephen Crim works on development projects in East Biloxi with Gulf Coast Community Design Studio.

"Any simplification of review or any steps that remove uncertainty in the development process we think are positive. Of course, we are not advocating weakening of standards, but think it's beneficial for all when everyone understands basically what's going to happen," he told the group.

The city's planning commission is expected to adopt the new Land Development Ordinance in the next several weeks.  After that, it goes to the city council.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved

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