Changes proposed to attract new developments in Long Beach

Changes proposed to attract new developments in Long Beach

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - A proposed zoning change is designed to bring new developments to Long Beach, but some residents are concerned those new developments would be too close to their front doors.

"I'm very concerned that it's basically rezoning all the property south of the tracks," said resident David Reed. 

Reed can see the beach from his home in Long Beach and lives across the street from a planned RV park. He doesn't oppose new business coming in, but he wants to know more about a proposal to create an overlay district everywhere in the city south of the tracks. 

"My understanding of an overlay district was that they could overlay these into a mixed-use overlay district, and then if someone wanted to buy all of this property up they could potentially put apartments or commercial in that overlay district," Reed said. 

The city is holding a public hearing on Thursday night for the planning commission to consider changes to the zoning map. Alderman Donald Frazer said overlay districts already exist in other cities on the Coast, and these kinds of steps need to be taken to attract developments. 

"There is development. The economy is turning around, and we want to make sure that we're ahead of the curve, and our name is in the mix," said Frazer. 

Even if the overlay district is passed Frazer says developers would still have to take extra steps if they wanted to build in what are now traditional family neighborhoods. 

"It allows a new developer to come in and ask. It doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be granted," Frazer said. "You would still have to go through the proper channels of requesting the variances and the special use permits."

Right now many of the vacant lots on Highway 90 are already zoned for commercial use and Reed thinks the priority should be on developing those properties. 

"Those two lots at the end of my street are zoned for commercial, and they're not developed," Reed said. "So, why should we suddenly start coming into our neighborhoods and rezone to allow more development when we still have areas to develop down there?"

Concerning the overlay district Long Beach Mayor George Bass sent WLOX the following statement:

Myself and the Board of Aldermen want to bring development to the City of Long Beach. We looked at neighboring cities along the Coast, that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina to see how they have brought in new development. We realized there are large tracks of land in the City of Long Beach with restricted height requirements that have resulted in homeowners not being able to rebuild. Homeowners are not able to market their property due to insurance cost, height requirements and the property being zoned R1. The landowners have reached out to us asking for assistance in helping them rebuild. We contacted South Mississippi Planning and Development District and our own Planning and Development Commission to evaluate the properties south of the CSX Railroad to explore the idea of changing the zoning to protect existing homes and neighborhoods. Looking into the overlay district would allow for redevelopment of areas that have been vacant since Hurricane Camille

The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Long Beach City Hall.

Here is the complete proposal by the city of Long Beach Planning Commision.

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