Beach vendors ordinance brings wave of controversy

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A part of Hancock County's new beach vendor's ordinance set off a major controversy. The ordinance allows for snowball stands, Jet Ski rentals and rentals of many other water related items on the beach. What the ordinance did not allow was animals, and that angered many residents who enjoy taking their dogs to the shore.

It's a daily ritual for many Hancock County residents; a morning, afternoon or evening walk with their pet dogs.

"Bay St. Louis, this area is known as a pet friendly area, and the beaches have been known as pet friendly. We have a lot of people come to town because of that," said Bay St. Louis resident Christina Richardson.

The beach vendor's ordinance, approved by county supervisors last week, banned animals on the beach.

"If handled appropriately, both sides can coexist equally in these waters," said Waveland resident Kathleen Johnson.

County leaders say the new ordinance was patterned after Harrison County's beach vendor's ordinance, and the no dogs allowed part of it was accidentally left in.

"We missed it. We missed it, and what do you do? You rectify it, and that's what we're doing," said Hancock County Board of Supervisors President said Lisa Cowand.

Cowand said the measure was supposed to say dogs must be on a leash when brought to the beach. The mistake touched off a groundswell from dog owners.

"They got 600 or 700 phone calls over the weekend, and we texted them and e-mailed them all of our neighbors and friends. I think it's a real good example of the county board of supervisors listening to their voting public. I hope Harrison County pays attention to this, and everybody who wants to go to the beach with their dogs comes to our beaches," explained Richardson.

County supervisors also retracted a portion of the ordinance that prohibited fireworks from being fired on the beach, to allow the practice during holidays. Bids will be taken for beach vending activity in about 30 days.

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