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“I will make it work”: Saga over The Sands continues in Ocean Springs

“The (original) dream, the project, The Sands is 100% dead as far as I am concerned,” said the developer at Thursday’s meeting.
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 7:14 AM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - The saga of The Sands continues in Ocean Springs. The Board of Alderman hosted a public meeting Thursday to hear from the residential property’s developers, as well as residents who are opposed to the project.

The Sands has been the subject of much controversy in Ocean Springs over the last few years. Originally intended to be condos, the development now sits empty on Front Beach after a judge ruled against the developer a few months ago. The judge initially ordered that the condos be torn down but changed his ruling last month, saying instead that the Board of Aldermen must consider if one or both of the structures built on the property can be made compliant under the R-1A ordinances and zoning law.

Thursday’s meeting was to discuss whether or not the development can become compliant. Currently, the two existing structures fall short of R-1A ordinances, but developer Michael Butler believes he can make the existing structures compliant.

“We tried to do that whole single-family situation with the detached townhomes. We thought that was a better project for the City of Ocean Springs, but apparently the neighbors didn’t like that too much,” said Butler. " So, what we’re going to have to do is attach our buildings and do an actual multi-family development. That’s the plan now. The plan is to go forward with 100 percent compliance.”

Among the main issues is the distance from Martin Avenue to the condos, the height of the buildings, and the distance between them. The idea of joining the two structures was discussed, but many neighbors are unsure if the combined structure would adhere to the necessary code.

“Whatever that height limitation is, I will move it down and make it work,” he said. “The setback, whatever you guys tell me the setback is from Martin Avenue, I will pull it back. I will make it work.”

Butler wants to move forward with the project, but he admits his dream is no longer a possibility.

”There will be no gray area... Let’s go back to black and white. I am not playing in any gray areas anymore. I am over this stuff. It will be ironclad and it is going to be multi-family attached dwellings. That is it. The dream, the project, The Sands is 100 percent dead as far as I am concerned,” said Butler.

The Board of Aldermen is expected to vote on whether or not the existing structures can be made compliant at the Oct. 19 board meeting.

READ MORE: A look back at the history and controversy over The Sands development

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