Zoning Change On Hold For Potential Biloxi Wal-Mart Site - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/21/03

Zoning Change On Hold For Potential Biloxi Wal-Mart Site

A decision about turning Broadwater fairways into Wal Mart checkout lines is on hold. Thursday, the Biloxi Planning Commission heard arguments about rezoning the President Broadwater Golf Course. Wal Mart needs the commercial zoning change if it's going to build a super center on Pass Road.

The planning commission sent the rezoning request to committee, so it could be studied more thoroughly. Wal Mart believes a new super center would create 500 jobs and $70 million in sales. But, it would also eliminate another Biloxi golf course.

If Wal Mart has its way, this may have been Leon Watson's final sand shot at the President Broadwater Golf Course.

"Well I hate to see them take out another golf course. Us hackers like to have a nice place close to the house to play," Biloxi Golfer Leon Watson said.

Tommy Vervaeke is the real estate broker who convinced Wal Mart to build a Biloxi supercenter near the Broadwater's 12th tee box.

"Actually we're preserving a lot of green space. Wal Mart has gone ahead and agreed to preserve three large clusters of oak trees on their parcel that they're going to be purchasing," Vervaeke said.

The Wal Mart would take up 26 of the nearly 200 acres on the golf course property. Other stores and single family homes would also be built on the Pass Road Beauvoir Road site. Trees would buffer the development from the roadway.

"And so we've done a lot of things to make it more pleasing to the eye, and friendlier for traffic," Attorney Mike Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh pointed out that the golf course is the only property on the south side of Pass Road in Biloxi that doesn't have a commercial zoning designation. He told the Biloxi Planning Commission, and us, that rezoning the land simply made sense.

"If for some reason this were defeated, it doesn't guarantee that a golf course will still be there six months from now," Cavanaugh said.

The guys on the 12th tee understood that possibility existed.

"Sure. Still hate to see it go."

The developers have agreed to give Biloxi some of the land at the southern end of the property. The city will be able to use that land for the east west corridor it wants to build.

Several people who'd like to save the Broadwater's greens jammed into Thursday's planning commission meeting. They listened to the 30 minute Wal Mart presentation. Then they got up and urged commissioners to save the golf course, and the city's dwindling green space. Five people spoke against the proposal. Four people supported it.

If Wal Mart gets the commercial zoning change, developers say the President Broadwater Golf Course could be sold in November.

by Brad Kessie

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