Hidden Springs zoning change still up in the air

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi City Council spent nearly three hours Tuesday talking about one issue: the proposed Hidden Springs subdivision in Woolmarket. The developer wants the council to change the zoning for the 166 acre property so he can build on much smaller lots than was first proposed.

Residents who oppose the zoning change said they have no problem with the development. They just want the zoning to stay the same, what is called RER.

The city council chamber was packed as both sides gave thorough, well planned, and lengthy presentations.

"Hidden Springs is inconsistent with the character of the surrounding neighborhoods," the group's leader, Jennifer McRight said. "RER zoning should be maintained to preserve and be consistent with all the surrounding areas of Hidden Springs."

McRight and others also pointed out that by allowing more homes and smaller lots, Hidden Springs would have a negative impact on infrastructure in the area.

The developer of the project, Phil Frisby, disagreed. He said his development would be something Biloxi needs, a quality neighborhood in a part of the city somewhat removed from the potential high winds of another hurricane. He also pointed out that he has made many adjustments to his plans over the last three years to address the issues the opponents are worried about.

"We have listened to the neighbors' concerns," Frisby said. "Working closely with the Planning Department, we have incorporated the suggestions into our totally revised and tremendously different master plan. We have engaged the services of a master planner."

Frisby also emphasized, in a nearly unanimous vote, the planning commission has already recommended he be allowed to make the zoning change he wants.

Near the end of the meeting, Frisby surprised everyone when he told that council he wanted to withdraw his request for the zoning change, at least for now. He wants to see if he and the opposition can come to some sort of agreement.

Now, a public hearing will be held and there is no word on when a final vote may finally come on this issue.

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