Commander Concerned About Building Height

Keesler's commander is raising concerns about proposed building heights in the City of Biloxi.

City leaders are in the process of revising Biloxi's land use ordinance.

General Michael Peterson is most worried about a plan that would allow dockside casino developments to be 250 feet tall.

"It very much depends on where they are in relation to the runway center line as it extends out over the beach and into the Gulf," explained General Peterson, as he discussed concerns about proposed building heights.

The commander of the 81st Training Wing wants the city to consider a 110 foot building height limit, especially for the waterfront area near Rodenburg Avenue.

His concern is the safety of air operations at Keesler. Pilots must consider worst case scenarios... like losing an engine.

"If that climbing ratio increases too much, then there's less fuel that they can take onboard. And after awhile if the buildings were too tall, we simply could not operate out of this building for safety concerns," said General Peterson.

Biloxi's mayor says the general's concerns will be considered.  Mayor A.J. Holloway also says any 250 foot building would still face certain restrictions and review.

"Two hundred fifty feet would have to be in a master plan, would have to be approved by the planning commission and the city council. So, it's not just arbitrarily that you could go in and build 250 feet," explained the mayor.

You'll recall Keesler's commander voiced concerns about the construction of the 32 story Imperial Palace hotel. Once the project was built despite those objections, Keesler amended its approach and departure procedures to deal with the 341 foot building.

General Peterson says that single project wasn't a major problem.

"The Imperial Palace alone, no that's not. Alone that's not a significant issue. However, one or two more Imperial Palaces in one or two worst locations and we've got a big problem," he said.

General Peterson outlined his concerns in a letter to city leaders. Keesler wants Biloxi to be aware that high rise developments can impact its air operations.

"We have to have a safe and continuing air field operation here at this air force base for the future of Keesler Air Force base," said the commander.

The City of Biloxi is holding a series of public hearings on the proposed land ordinance, beginning next week.