Biloxi Bows Out of Golf Course Purchase

In a special meeting Friday, the Biloxi City Council granted variances the developer needs to build townhouses, condos and homes on the 118 acres. Since the city won't buy the course, the council must now consider whether allow the new development to have to more narrow roads and smaller front yards than other neighborhoods.

The attorney for those who want to save the golf course says allowing special variances would violate the city's own guidelines for land use, which call for the Edgewater Bay property to be recreational.

"You're going to have virtual gridlock if you put in another 200 units, developing only half of that golf course," Wayne Hengen says.  "Don't do that.  It's in violation of your own law."

The atorney for the golf course sees it differently.

"It's merely a guideline, and it's a guideline that was thoroughly considered by the planning commission when they came to their decision based on their professional expertise to grant these variances or to recommend the granting of these variances," Billy Miller says.  "So Mr. Hengen and I differ on the interpretation of that obviously."

Councilmember Tom Wall wanted to table the variance request so a public hearing could be held. That didn't get much support, and after conferring with their own attorney the council okayed the variances.

Wall lashed out saying, "I can't believe it. I've never seen this council refuse a representative from any ward, I've never seen a situation where we would not afford them a public hearing, it's just unheard of."

Golf course owner Barbara Stewart says she's relieved she can now move ahead with selling the course to the York Community Development Group.  Stewart says she's not sure how much longer the course will stay open after the December 29th closing date.