Vote Stalled On Bay St. Louis Historic Preservation Ordinance

It's been seven years since Bay St. Louis city leaders took the first steps towards adopting a historic preservation ordinance. Council members were expected to vote on the controversial issue Tuesday night but decided to wait until further revisions could be made.

That move didn't sit well with members of the committee appointed to draft the ordinance.

576 homes and buildings in the Bay are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Protecting them for future generations is why proponents say a preservation ordinance is needed in Bay St. Louis.

"It's extremely important... Bay St. Louis is the third oldest city on the entire Gulf of Mexico. So far its beach has remained uninhibited by the commercial intrusion, except for delightful little restaurants. It's the large commercial intrusion we hope the preservation ordinance will prevent," Historic Preservation Committee Chairman Charles Gray said.

Gray and 11 other people have spent seven years researching preservation ordinances from cities across the nation. They were hopeful Tuesday when the council had the ordinance on its agenda, but left in disappointment.

"I think people really need to be educated and everyone needs to know what's in the ordinance before we vote on it," City Council President Bill Taylor said.

Gray says his committee will work on the ordinance some more, but he concedes some frustration that the process has dragged on so long.

"The current city council in Bay St. Louis is not the same council that appointed the original preservation ordinance committee. Only two members are still on the council. It's understandable they don't have the same goals and attitude toward it that the original group that organized it had."

Gray says protecting the past while pleasing people in the present hasn't been easy. Supporters of an ordinance hope it doesn't take another seven years.

Gray says residents can come by the Hancock County Historical Society on Cue Street during business hours to address their concerns.

by Al Showers