Biloxi Council Receives Plan - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi Council Receives Plan

The Biloxi City Council received and then discussed the final report from the "Reviving the Renaissance" committee at Tuesday's meeting.

The man who chaired that committee, brought forward the more than 200 page document.

"Does it provide everything for everybody? No. What it does provide though is a recommended road map that you the leaders of this city consider," said retired General Clark Griffith.

That road map includes a few sharp curves. The future of storm ravaged East Biloxi has been a concern at public hearings. And that concern was echoed before the council.

Biloxi resident Jackie Washington told the council, "Everything is moving out and moving up. But we still have nothing that is inclusive of its residents, of the heritage."

Biloxi resident and downtown business owner Mike Hutter shared similar concerns about the plan.

"The people are still there. The land is still there and the history is still there. And the will is strong if we can help the people down there," he said.

As residents of the Point struggle with decisions on whether to rebuild, one plan supporter reminded the council Katrina created some harsh realities there.

"The realities are that the people are not going to be able to live on East Biloxi, on the Point, as they once did before. And that's not anybody's fault," said Reed Guice.

The councilman who represents Point Cadet took exception.

"They've been there for three generations. They've lived through everything. They came over on schooners. Immigrants. Come to Biloxi, basically built this town from nothing," councilman George Lawrence told his colleagues.

The mayor reminded council members that the private sector will do most of the final decision making when it comes to rebuilding or not.

"Nobody's saying to take everybody's property in East Biloxi by eminent domain. If somebody wants to sell it, that's fine. If a developer comes down there to assemble some property and people want to sell it, that's fine," said the mayor.

"It's up to each councilman to read this, get with your people, and see what is feasible to do, and that is absolutely it," said Ward 3 councilman Charles Harrison.

An amendment to change the wording of the resolution, led to a unanimous vote to receive the report.

Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick pushed for the amendment that the council simply "receive" the report rather than "accepting its recommendations in principle." But that was apparently just an exercise in semantics, since the city's attorney told the council that changing the wording made no difference, legally.

By Steve Phillips

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