Lawsuit could stymie Bay Village compromise

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi councilmen have a compromise in the works that could turn a weedy old golf course into a dynamic mixed use development. But until a lawsuit is resolved, efforts to make Bay Village fit into its west Biloxi neighborhood may be moot.

The golf course is the east side of Edgewater Bay, where golfers played holes three through seven.

The mixed use development is Bay Village, a project that's been quite controversial since it was first pitched. It's been controversial because neighbors didn't like the size of Bay Village.

Here's the compromise that's being discussed. Councilmen will vote to change the zoning so fewer homes are built on larger lots. And near Pass Road, office space, and not retail shops, will be developed.

Jim Clauson lives near the 27 acre property. "I don't think anybody has any objection to homes being built back here, so long as they're consistent with what's already back here," he said. For months, Clauson, and many of his neighbors, have been critical of plans to cram houses, townhomes, and businesses onto this narrow strip of land. "There were a lot of issues. Destroying the character of the neighborhood was number one," he said.

After Biloxi's council voted 4-3 last summer for the Bay Village zoning needs, Clauson filed a lawsuit. Almost five months later, the council agenda includes a resolution to reconsider its zoning decision.

Mike Fitzpatrick authored the resolution. "It was time to look at this project again," he said. Councilman Fitzpatrick says rezoning the back of the land RS 7.5 would mean 7,500 square foot lots, eliminating some of the clutter, and the townhomes, that worried neighbors. Bay Village, he said, "should be compatible with the neighborhood."

Back in July, Councilman Tom Wall made the same suggestion about this side of the old Edgewater Bay golf course - larger lots, fewer homes, and offices along Pass Road. He figured the offices would limit the traffic concerns that retail shops could cause. Traffic has always been a sticking point for the Bay Village development. Signs around neighboring Edgewater Estates urge the council to put safety first.

Wall was one of the three councilmen who originally said no to the project. Now, he sayd he'll say yes, if the new zoning proposal reduces the number of homes Bay Village builds. "They can't do a thing without it coming back before the council," said Wall. "So I feel very confident that everything is going to go in the best interest of the city and the neighborhood."

Mr. Clauson's lawsuit is supposed to be heard this week. Because the case is pending, the Biloxi council has been advised to table any Bay Village talk until the lawsuit is either dismissed or resolved.