Gulfport to hundreds of Katrina slab owners: Time to clear off

Gulfport to hundreds of Katrina slab owners: Time to clear off

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of Gulfport property owners are about to be put on notice that their slabs left behind by Hurricane Katrina have got to go. Mayor Billy Hewes said the slabs are eyesores, especially along Highway 90. He said 10 years is long enough for property owners to clean up their lots.

Hurricane Katrina turned lots of coast homes and businesses into slabs. In Gulfport, officials said there are about 200 properties where slabs still remain.

"If you have a slab and no building on it, there should not be a slab there," said Gulfport resident Jessie Fitzgerald. "Now if you are able to put your building back on your slab, it's okay to leave it there for a little while longer. That's if you're making progress in order to put a building back on your slab. But as far as I'm concerned, if you're not making any progress, you do need to remove your slab."

Right now, Gulfport is drafting a letter that will be sent to slab owners.

"We're requesting an attorney general's opinion on what constitutes a slab and how to properly go about making sure it's removed. The expectation is that we will be sending out letters to people who have not cleared their lots of slabs and put them on notice with the expectation that we have them all cleaned by the end of August."

Gulfport leaders said the slabs are eyesores, and those in high profile areas, like Highway 90, make a bad impression on visitors.

"We're of the sense that 10 years is long enough to have had your property cleaned up or cleared off, if necessary. So anything that remains is a bit of an eyesore," said Mayor Hewes. "I think they're a blight on our community to a great degree. Particularly where you have high profile areas. People still ride down the beach and see them. It's unsightly. If you're going to be responsible for your property, then it needs to be kept in a certain condition here in Gulfport."

Some residents said while they'd like to see the slabs cleared, they can understand how the expense could be a problem for some owners.

Allan Pickett of Gulfport said, "It's very costly to upgrade all this. Tear it all out and turn it into a nice vegetative state. But it should would enhance Highway 90 in the cities."

Mayor Hewes said Gulfport has not yet decided on a penalty for property owners who don't comply, but he's hopeful people will be responsible and the city won't have to penalize anyone.

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