Residents Talk About Views On Height Ordinance In Ocean Springs

The city of Ocean Springs will soon decide whether to change its waterview and height ordinance. That determines just how high commercial and residential properties can build. Tuesday night, residents shared their suggestions with the city's planning commission at a public hearing.

Because of Katrina, FEMA has raised the flood advisory elevation levels in some parts of Ocean Springs. The recommended elevation levels in two of the hardest hit areas, Front and East Beach, range between 14 to 18 feet above sea level.

"By lifting the bottom, or requiring that the foundation be elevated, it does limit the amount of buildable area you have between the free board or the bottom board structure or the top of your roof," said city planner Donovan Scruggs.

Right now, the height limit for residential districts is 35 feet. It's 50 feet for commercial property.

"If the ground elevation levels are to be elevated because of FEMA or the hurricane situation, possibly we should just increase our height ordinance to accommodate the additional requirements that are made by FEMA."

Another Ocean Springs resident suggested following the recommendation of the Governor's Forum on Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal.

"Instead of just looking at a height number, like right now it's 35 for homes, and 50 for commercials, instead you look at the number of stories that you have," Becky Gillette said.

The planning commission will take these public comments into consideration, and are set to give their recommendation to the Board of Aldermen next week.