Residents in a Biloxi community are tired of dealing with an overgrown area that borders their homes and has been a magnet for homeless camps. Tuesday's city council meeting was the first time residents of Edgewater Estates in west Biloxi decided to air their grievance to city leaders, but it has been a growing problem for about five years.
Sherry Giacone has lived in the neighborhood since 1977, and said a homeless camp sits right behind her home. She's awakened by loud noises, yelling, bad smells and loud music. According to her, some residents have been victims of theft and burglary, and she's worried she could be next.
"We're all in fear of it," she said. "It's like, do we have to wait until we're hit? Do we have to wait until somebody gets hurt? I know people's hands are tied, but I also know I should have the rights that they have and more."
The former golf course is owned by W.C. Fore. At Tuesday's council meeting, there was a public hearing about the property being in code violation. City Spokesman Vincent Creel said the council will vote to move forward with a cleanup. Once the property is cleaned, the cost will go on the taxes of the property owner.
Karen Sinopoli has been a voice of concern through the Edgewater Estates Association.
"This is a commercial property that they are sitting on and camping on. It is not multi-family. It's not set up with sanitation, running water and bathrooms. They are using every means of those facilities in the woods," Sinopoli said.
Creel said it is a big problem that Mayor Gilich wants to meet head on.
"He's told the police that he wants to treat homeless people with compassion, but be stern," Creel said. "What we need to watch out for is that they don't infringe on the rights of others. That is the case that we've heard loud and clear from the residents of Edgewater Estates."
Police Chief John Miller said the city needs cooperation from Fore to help give law enforcement some leverage. For starters, he could place "No trespassing" signs on the land.
"If people were on private property where there was no trespassing, that would give us the right to go on and ask them to leave," Chief Miller said.