Biloxi votes down a housing project the city previously approved

When Biloxi told developers they could put a dozen townhomes on a lot on Moran Alley, nearby neighbors said the city made a mistake.
When Biloxi told developers they could put a dozen townhomes on a lot on Moran Alley, nearby neighbors said the city made a mistake.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Neighbors who lost their first battle against a housing development were ready for round two on Tuesday.

Back in 2009, the Biloxi City council approved plans for 12 townhomes on Moran alley over community objections. Although Back Bay Townhomes was given approval three years ago, construction never started and because of that the permits expired. So when developers decided to seek permission to restart the project, neighbors knew they had a second chance to stop it.

When Biloxi told developers they could put a dozen townhomes on a lot on Moran Alley, nearby neighbors said the city made a mistake.

"It doesn't make sense. You're trying to put 12 units in a space that was designed for three single family houses," property owner Michael Griffin said.

"If you have to have eight variances on a piece of property that is less than a half acre, then your project is in the wrong place," said Attorney Michael Cavanaugh.

Cavanaugh represents some of the neighbors objecting to the project and gave the council a list of nearly 30 more neighbors who concur.

Neighbors said because the alley is narrow and a dead end, it's not safe to be the primary access road for so many homes. They said alleys are by law supposed to access roads for backyards and garages, but not primary entrances.

Using our WLOX news car, we found it impossible to drive along the road and still leave enough room for a passing vehicle.

"They are talking about having 24 cars come up and down this dead end alley. That's two cars for each of the townhomes," neighbor Frances Creel said. "What if someone has a party or has company to watch a football game? Where are they going to park? A garbage truck is going to have to go down this dead end alley twice a week."

The developer told the council he plans to widen Moran Alley and he said while economic hardship put the project on hold, he is now ready to move forward.

"Everything is exactly the same as what was approved by every one of you the last time that we came and asked for this development," Eric Perez said. "Nothing has changed whatsoever."

However, the council had a change of heart from three years ago and unanimously voted the townhomes down.

The street falls in the ward of Bill Stallworth.

"We were pushing to have those units put in at a time when we desperately needed them. However, we've had a lot more building in East Biloxi and we've also had an opportunity for the community to come back. The direction that community is moving for I think this development is detrimental."

Stallworth said he hopes the developer will look over his plans and present a smaller scale project that includes homes that will be sold rather than rented out.

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