Biloxi tables vote on casino talk west of I-110

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A vote to rezone land immediately west of I-110 was tabled Tuesday night.  The Biloxi City Council wants more time to determine if 20 property owners on Bayshore Drive,  Bayview Avenue, and Diaz Avenue and adjoining streets should get the change they requested.  They want that area to be rezoned WF Waterfront.  That would allow a casino group to come in, purchase the land, and develop a resort west of I-110.

A standing room only crowd gathered at Tuesday's Biloxi City Council meeting.  Most people showed up to express their opinions about rezoning that property.

Attorney Wayne Hengen spoke on behalf of several property owners who are in favor of the zoning change.  "They've had plenty of opportunity to make it residential and they just have chosen not to do it," Hengen said.  "I wouldn't have done it. I couldn't afford to live in a place that's going to get wiped out again and I couldn't afford to pay the flood insurance premium."

This area sits on Biloxi's back bay.  West of there is Keesler Air Force Base.  And to the east is I-110 and the IP Casino, Resort and Spa.

Hengen noted the property under consideration for the zoning change was residential prior to Hurricane Katrina. Most of those homes were destroyed by the storm. Many property owners boarded up and never returned.

One supporter of the zoning change said, "This is a golden opportunity for Biloxi I think, and you just can't shut it down. You just got to go with it. Just think of the jobs, just think of no tax increases for the city of Biloxi, for the residents."

But several people who are opposed feel there is no need for another casino in the area.  "There are a lot of vacant lots around Biloxi Bay, but there are also a lot of lots being built on. So I am opposed to the rezoning and I hope you'll vote no," a Biloxi resident said.

The council voted to table the issue until its October 15 meeting.

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