Volunteer Camp Must Move From Waveland Neighborhood

WAVELAND (WLOX) -- It's not likely to win yard of the month. But the people who run Katrina Relief never set out win any beauty awards.

Property owner John Mailhes said, "Katrina Relief has been here a year and a half and has done nothing but help people."

Mailhes has allowed the relief group to operate from his house on Tabor Street, free of charge. Until recently he's had no complaints.

"Two months ago, I received a letter that they were in violation of what they were using the house for. That two of the aldermen had constituents that complained," Mailhes said. "There's nothing between my house and Dick Street. And I have two clip boards of petitions from Edna Street that people are not complaining."

But Judy Roth, who owns property on Tabor Street, is complaining.

"The condition of that property was appalling, especially being in a neighborhood," Roth said.

She calls the Katrina Relief operation an eyesore, and made her feelings clear to the Waveland Zoning Commission.

"This group has been down here helping probably a lot of these people in this room, and all of a sudden we're jumping on them. I'd like to know why?" Zoning Commission Chairman Gary Catalano asked.

"I think it's having your neighborhood get back, some timeline of how long all of this stuff is going to be in the yard. And I think that's a lot of the issue, the quote un-quote eyesore," Zoning Commissioner Mary-Beth Benning said.

"There's a lot of stuff right around the corner, and nobody's saying anything about that," Catalano replied.

Zoning Commissioner Steve Hand said, "We appreciate what you were doing, the city did. And they are basically saying, 'Enough already.' When is there an endgame, an end plan for this amount of activity on that site?"

Kathleen Johnson is the director of Katrina Relief. She promised change, but also asked for a little understanding.

"It took us a long time to put it up. It's going to take a long time to move, and we are going to get it done," Johnson said.

Zoning commissioners gave Katrina Relief two months to clean up the property and remove the stuff from the front yard. They voted to give the operation 18 more months in that location before it must leave for good.

Johnson said most of her operation is in the process of being moved to Pass Christian. But she'd like to keep the case management part of her operation on Tabor Street.

The Board of Aldermen will have the final say on the compromise zoning commissioners reached with Johnson.