Biloxi's Pine Street Could Be Rezoned For Casinos

The Biloxi City Council has no plans to override a Mayor A.J. Holloway veto by Thursday's deadline. So, the Tivoli property in east Biloxi will not be developed into a casino resort.

However, a few blocks away, several other parcels of land could get the city's okay to replace weeds with a casino resort. Those parcels are between Pine Street and Third Street.

Families used to live in that area. But then, Katrina wiped out their homes, and construction costs went through the roof.

As property owner Rocky Ransonet said in a Tuesday afternoon phone conversation, "No one has any intention to rebuild."

Ransonet is spearheading the group of eight land owners on Pine Street, and eight others on Third Street who decided to sell, because rebuilding would cost too much.

A neighbor understands their predicament.

"Realistically, it's a step forward for them if they're able to achieve the rezoning and sell the property," said Palace Casino General Manager Keith Crosby, "because at this point, I don't think it will ever be redeveloped residentially."

Since their lots sit near an inlet off Biloxi's Back Bay, and because the state allows casinos to sit on legal sites that are within 800 feet of the mean high tide, the property owners signed petitions and asked Biloxi to rezone their parcels. That way, they could be marketed to potential casino developers. Ransonet said so far, there had been no interest from the casino world.

Pine Street and Third Street are adjacent to the Palace Casino's marina. Crosby won't fight the rezoning request. However, he does question whether a casino developer would target that area right now.

"But again, the likelihood of it being developed non-residential is a whole lot better than trying to build a house there right now," he admitted.

The Biloxi City Council is supposed to vote on the waterfront zoning change for Pine Street and Third Street at next Tuesday's meeting.

The councilman in that area of east Biloxi is George Lawrence. He said that unlike the Tivoli situation, he was in favor of a waterfront zoning change for the Pine Street residents. Lawrence explained that turning the north end of Pine Street into a casino zone was the highest and best use of the hurricane damaged land.