Some Long Beach Aldermen Want Second Opinion On Condos

It's not an insult to ask for a second opinion. That's what some Long Beach aldermen were saying Tuesday night.

Ward one's Charlie Boggs called for a comprehensive study to determine how high rise condos will impact the city's infrastructure. Although the city engineer has already presented his findings, Boggs says he wants the opinion of an outsider, with no ties to the city.

On Tuesday, the board of aldermen had to decide whether to give developers for Southern Sands condos preliminary approval. The project is just one of many high rise condo projects that the board must consider. However, one citizen's group accuses the city of not seeing the bigger picture.

"I would like the city to order these studies so that we know that the city can handle all the developments that are proposed," Joe DeFazio, of the Long Beach Civic Organization, said.

Mayor Billy Skellie says because some condos plans will move forward and some won't, it is impossible to do a comprehensive study on how traffic, drainage, and water could be affected. The city is looking at each development individually.

"We've spent the greater part of six months doing exactly that with a very competent engineer who has worked with the city for over 20 years," Skellie said.

The long history between city engineer John Campton and Long Beach is what worries new alderman Charlie Boggs. He says there needs to be an independent evaluation.

"We need two views," said Boggs. "We need the city's view and we need someone from the outside who has not had a long time relationship with the city to give us the degree of comfort that we need to make such drastic changes."

"It's not an insult to your primary care physician to ask for a second opinion. In the same light, it's not an insult to John Campton, who is a fine engineer, to ask for a second opinion on his conclusions," Ward 3's Richard Burton said.

The aldermen who want the outside study believe it can be done at relatively little expense, but the mayor says it's an added cost the city doesn't need and can't afford.

"If you start over with someone else, I'd hate to think about the price tag that would go along with somebody starting from ground zero," said Skellie "They'll have to find the money and the last count I had, we didn't have a bunch of it laying around."

The Long Beach Civic Association wants the board to hold off on approving any condo developments until a lawsuit against the city's high rise condo ordinance is settled. That case is set to be heard on July 29th in Gulfport.