HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has strong words regarding Biloxi's proposal to rezone 20 acres of waterfront property where Margaritaville developers want to build a $140 million expansion.
Hosemann says rezoning the property and leasing it for only $2 per square-foot would result in the Coast losing millions of dollars in tax revenue.
"We are currently leasing this property over here that the state owns for $4.90 a foot; $2.90 a foot difference. What does it mean to the Mississippi Gulf Coast? $25,000,000 million," said Hosemann. "The addition for family entertainment, I think, is a great idea for the Coast. So I'd be for that as a personal preference, but I have a responsibility to the people that live on the Coast to maximize their dollars here," said Hosemann.
According to Hosemann, the property does not need to be rezoned for development expansion. In addition to Hosemann asking the city not to hold a rezoning hearing, the state is waiting on a property appraisal.
"I'm hoping they will leave this alone until we can go through the normal process, which is we get an appraisal. We negotiate a 40 year lease with a 25 year option. We don't need to make a mistake for 65 years here, and we don't need to shorten the people on the coast their money," said Hosemann.
Cono Caranna, Jr., one of the developers of Margaritaville, says they are willing to do whatever it takes to move forward.
"Wait for the appraisal to come back that the secretary's already ordered, and then find out what it is says, it's valued at, and then we'll try to negotiate a lease at that point," said Caranna.
Vincent Creel with the City of Biloxi says at this time they plan to move forward with Thursday's rezoning hearing.