Ocean Springs To Hold Public Forum On Waterfront Development

On Monday, January 29, at 6:00 p.m., Mayor Connie Moran will hold a public meeting to obtain community input on planning issues for the Front Beach area of Ocean Springs. The meeting will be held at the Ocean Springs Community Center on Washington Avenue next to the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

"Public input is vital in the planning process for our waterfront, most notably from residents who live there," said Moran.  "Front beach is a cherished public space that belongs to all citizens, and our Board of Aldermen welcomes suggestions from everyone."

Some projects, such as the Ocean Pointe condominium project that will replace the former apartment complex on Front Beach, were approved by the former administration but faced new flood elevations after Katrina. Another project was under construction and destroyed.

Citizens are also concerned about how new condominium projects and height ordinances may impact the appearance of Front Beach as it is redeveloped. In light of this, the city mailed out Waterview surveys to residents in that special district to gather opinions on a host of issues facing the district. It was outgoing Planning Director Donovan Scruggs' last major project.

The results of these surveys will be presented at the meeting as a jumping-off point for discussion. In addition, Mayor Moran will present an update of all potential grants and rebuilding projects that are currently awaiting funding in the Front Beach area.

To date no concrete decisions have been made regarding all specifics of design and construction until funding is available.

The meeting is open to all interested parties, not just residents of the Front Beach neighborhood.

Says Mayor Moran, "Front Beach is enjoyed by everyone.  I can't stress how important it is that everyone be a part of visioning its restoration."

One of the major issues to be broached is that of height allowances. The topic has two facets.  The first regards the optimal height that allows residents and developers to construct structures out of harm's way, while still maintaining the character of the neighborhood and the "tree line".

The second is, how will measurements be written into code-in feet or in stories? Defining height in terms of stories could allow for more architectural variation, whereas simple feet definitions could impact design of flat roofed structures, as developers opt for the most stories in the allotted space.

On display will be artists renderings and several projects under consideration so that residents may question the developers. A brief presentation will be made.

"Our purpose is provide citizens with an overview of both current private and public projects that are being considered," said Moran.  "I hope that many citizens will be able to attend."