Biloxi Condo Density Issue Still Not Resolved

David Fayard sat in his corner seat at the Biloxi City Council table and admittedly rolled his eyes at the debate he was listening to. He heard numbers being thrown out about how many units should be allowed in condo projects around the city. To Fayard, the numbers made no sense.

"It's never going to be enough, because there's always another dollar bill they could reach and grab," Fayard said, referring to developers and their previous requests to change city rules and build more than the law allows. "I can't support this, I'm sorry."

Bill Stallworth countered that the numbers a three person committee came up with did make sense. More condo units per acre, he said, would bring people, their wallets, and therefore new business opportunities to Biloxi.

"We have to continue to feed the economic energy that allows us to build this community to make it better," said Stallworth.

Right now, a condo on the western end of Biloxi that receives no variances can have 30 units per acre. The council's committee thought that number should jump to 40.

In waterfront zoning districts where casinos are legal, the proposal was to raise condo densities from 30 to 75 units per acre. And from 30 to 110 per acre for casino hotels.

"I think it's prudent that we don't let casinos overrun our town," Stallworth said. "But we need to be sure that we do things that are going to be encouraging business development in our town."

Fayard is all for business development. But he's not convinced more condo units per acre are right for Biloxi, especially if the additional units tower over the city's skyline.

"We will build a city if we pass this. But it won't be Biloxi," Fayard said. "I don't know what it will be, but it won't be Biloxi."

In a letter to the council, Mayor A.J. Holloway wrote that he worried the committee's recommendation would have a detrimental impact on Biloxi's historic character. So as a compromise, Holloway proposed his own density recommendations. They also raise the number of condo units per acre. But not as much as the council's proposal.

Biloxi should vote on a condo density plan later this month.

Also at Tuesday's council meeting, the City of Biloxi rezoned several properties along the back bay between Oak Street and Cedar Street.

The property owners wanted the land to be classified as waterfront property, so it could be developed by a casino investor. Biloxi's planning commission and the city council both endorsed the request.