D'Iberville's new casino plan is virtually the same design as the one the DMR approved five years ago. A developer wants permission to build a casino resort immediately west of the I-110 bridge.
The difference this time is the developer has a court ordered environmental study in his possession.
According to D'Iberville's mayor, the EIS basically says the site meets all state and federal regulations. "What I'm saying now is if somebody comes out and approves this project," Mayor Rusty Quave said, "they better have their own EIS to support what they're saying, because we have one."
Project engineer Mark Seymour had a copy of the EIS in his Biloxi office. "It says there is no significant impacts at this project site," he said.
Seymour's group first pitched a D'Iberville casino west of I-110 in 1998. Since then, it's been tied up in red tape and litigation. "There is no other project in the state of Mississippi that has been required to do the studies and justify what's being done at this location since gaming started in 1992," he said.
Mayor Quave has been an outspoken cheerleader for the casino, because of the economic opportunities it could bring his city. The plan is for the casino resort to include 500 hotel rooms and a parking garage. "There is some days I feel like just throwing my hands up and quitting," he admitted. "But when you're fighting for something that is right, it's easy to stay persistent."
The fight to develop the north side of the back bay was taking so long, two potential developers left town. The project now belongs to the Jacobs group out of Ohio. It told Mark Seymour now that the EIS is done, the casino resort could be under construction by the summer. "The study indicated everything is fine," said Seymour. "And we should be able to go forward."
The Royal D'Iberville developers need a DMR and an Army Corps of Engineers permit before construction can begin.
Environmentalists still contend a casino on the D'Iberville site would hurt the Back Bay.
Gulf Islands Conservancy member Terese Collins contacted the media Monday. She wanted people to know that not only did the judge order the EIS, he told the Army Corps of Engineers it had to pay $192,000 in environmental attorney fees. "It empowers us to say to the developers that want to put inappropriate developments in back bay areas," she said, "whether it's Back Bay or Bay St. Louis, that there will be a cost to it."