Biloxi Removes Casino Zoning Issue From Agenda - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi Removes Casino Zoning Issue From Agenda

Biloxi councilman Mike Fitzpatrick first proposed that the planning commission study the zoning question. He was the one who took the casino issue off the agenda indefinitely.

"A couple of my councilmen have asked me to pull this thing off, so I pulled it off this morning," he told the standing room only crowd at Tuesday's meeting.

When he did, Fitzpatrick said he'd request a workshop at a later date. That way, everybody would have more time to understand why the casino zoning question had to be studied.

Gen. Clark Griffith doesn't think a study is necessary.

"To bring it back at a later time is the absolute wrong thing to do," the former Keesler commander said.

Gen. Griffith heads Biloxi's Reviving the Renaissance committee. His committee just finished a nearly 100 page report about rebuilding Biloxi after Katrina.

Griffith stepped up to the microphone and told the council he was adamantly opposed to rezoning hurricane damaged beachfront property for casino projects.

"There's plenty of waterfront zoned land in Biloxi to accommodate all the casinos that want to build here," he said.

The resolution that was supposed to be up for debate asked the planning commission to focus on two parcels of land -- the old Tivoli property, and the spot near Debuys Road where the Biloxi Beach Resort stood before Katrina. The question was whether those two properties should be rezoned for casinos.

When it was his turn to talk, John Lyons told the council to hold on just a minute.

"When are we going to say time out. Stop. Enough is enough," the Biloxi resident said.

Right after Lyons spoke, Peggy Higginson walked forward. She told council members she could live with new condominium developments near her west Biloxi home. But she urged the council to leave the casinos -- and their traffic -- in east Biloxi, away from the city's shopping centers.

"And then you add that on with elderly trying to get in and out, hospitals, and then a casino in the middle. I don't think it's appropriate," she said.

State representative Michael Janus sent a letter to the city council Tuesday. Janus asked council members to deny any additional rezoning of property for shore based casinos. Janus sits on the gaming committee the brought casinos on shore. He said his committee never intended to let casinos move into areas that weren't already zoned for them.

by Brad Kessie

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