Biloxi planning commission nixes short term home rentals - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi planning commission nixes short term home rentals

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

It may be a trend in other tourist towns, but it won't be happening in Biloxi anytime soon.

A request to allow the short-term rental of homes in residential neighborhoods was denied Thursday by the city's planning commission. The issue involves both concerns from neighbors and opposition from the hotel-motel industry.

It's a subject that several other coastal cities are dealing with. This specific case involves a couple which owns two rental homes, just two blocks off the beach in Biloxi.

They requested the zoning ordinance be changed to allow rentals of less than 30 days, which is now the minimum allowed by law.

Jerry and Janice Gammons own the two houses on Azalea Drive, not far from Highway 90 and the waterfront. They requested the city allow short-term rentals in their homes, primarily for visiting tourists. But the existing zoning law prohibits that.

"When you protect anything in a zoning ordinance, the first thing you start with is your residential. And the highest part of residential is your single family residential," said city building official, Ed Shambra.

The planning commission considered the case in committee two weeks ago. Commissioners heard from the home owners, along with neighbors both for and against.

Opponents worry about things like noise and traffic disrupting their serenity on Azalea Drive.

"The planning commission felt that the current ordinance is adequate. That it would create a quasi-commercial entity in single family zoning," said Community Development Director Jerry Creel.

"I guess the theme that keeps coming back in a lot of communities are at least, they're interested in the concept, but they're also fearful that it changes the complexion and nature of the way the ordinance works," said Shambra.

Another factor the commission considered is the opposition from the hotel-motel industry.  Short term home rentals could compete with their vacancies.

"We've got a lot of hotel and motel rooms up and down this highway that are not experiencing high occupancy. And it would be a disservice to those folks," said Planning Commission Chairman David Washer. "And to put these short term rentals in neighborhoods where people look for some peace and quiet, without any on site control, was a real concern."

The commission voted overwhelmingly to deny the couple's request to change the zoning law to allow short term rentals.

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