Bed & Breakfast Ordinance May Be Amended

Jennifer Diaz often hosts weddings and special events at her Highway 90 bed and breakfast.

In fact, Diaz has a photo album filled with wedding pictures that were taken on the grounds of her property.

"Having these type of events is very much a bed and breakfast thing," the Green Oaks owner said.

Diaz had a lenthy fight with Biloxi before she finally got permission five years ago to open her bed and breakfast. Since then, magazines have featured it as a great place for weddings. Diaz said weddings and other special events make up roughly half of her business.

Now, at least two Biloxi councilmen are wondering whether B&B's have permission to host outdoor parties. George Lawrence represents the ward where Green Oaks operates.

"I would like to find out exactly what is allowed under the ordinance," he said.

So Lawrence and councilman Jim Compton co-sponsored a resolution that asks the Biloxi Planning Commission to redefine what a bed and breakfast can and cannot do with its property. The city council is supposed to consider the proposal at Tuesday's meeting.

Compton said the resolution isn't supposed to prevent Biloxi bed and breakfasts from doing what they're already doing. But, he said, "We should have a regulatory scheme where the police don't have to be called to resolve disputes there about the noise level of a bed and breakfast event."

Jennifer Diaz admitted that there have been three or four occasions over the last five years when police had to break up noisy parties. But she said that's no reason to restrict how her guests use the oak filled bed and breakfast property.

"If they made it difficult or made it impossible for me to have these special events," Diaz said, "I would essentially be out of business. So I'm very, very concerned."

Biloxi does have a noise ordinance. It requires bands to stop performing outside at 7 p.m. Diaz said that's when most of her outdoor events end. She hired a team of lawyers to fight the city if it makes changes to the bed and breakfast ordinance.