Biloxi holds special tree ordinance meeting

Biloxi leaders hold special tree meeting on Tuesday. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Biloxi leaders hold special tree meeting on Tuesday. (Photo source: WLOX News)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi City Council held a special meeting Tuesday evening to discuss something that has deep roots along the coast--the trees. The protection of these natural landmarks throughout Biloxi has been the topic of conversation for some time.

It was a packed house in the Biloxi Council Chambers as concerned citizens filled the chairs to share their opinions. Among those was former mayor, Gerald Blessey.

"It's a statement unique and authentic to our community," said Blessey.

He remembers his days in office, and the battles he fought to keep the trees in place.

"The trees are an expression of our heritage, our natural heritage and it goes along with our cultural heritage," said Blessey.

Many at the meeting feared that Biloxi was losing its sense of heritage when it comes to developments. But, Director of Community Development, Jerry Creel, begged to differ.

"We think we have a very good ordinance, and we do enforce it," said Creel.

Director of Community Development, Jerry Creel, said when businesses look at the coast as a possible future site, there are policies in place that keep trees safe.

"But it also requires replacement of trees. It understands that if development comes, there maybe a need to cut down some trees," said Creel.

Although Creel is confident in the policies already in place, some at the meeting were concerned that too many trees have already been taken.

"I think if we followed it to the letter of the law, it would be very effective," said Arlene Canaan.

According to Canaan, the policy isn't being followed to every detail. She wasn't the only one with these thoughts. Most of the meeting was taken up with comments from citizens who wanted to enact a tree ordinance committee to help with the conservation effort.

Architect, Michael Lebatard, says he wasn't completely sold on the idea.

"I think the committee could do well if we had one. I just don't know which way the city would be able to work with that," said Lebatard.

Due to the response, the council scheduled a tree ordinance workshop. It will be held at noon before the next regularly scheduled meeting.

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