Biloxi business leaders ask secretary of state to make way for waterfront development

Some Biloxi business leaders have a request for Secretary of State Michael Watson: Stop standing in the way of waterfront development.
Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 9:28 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Some Biloxi business leaders have a request for Secretary of State Michael Watson: Stop standing in the way of waterfront development.

The Biloxi Businessmen’s Club drafted a letter this month to Secretary Watson asking that he reconsider how his office handles Tidelands issues.

Though the letter doesn’t mention any specific projects, the Veterans Avenue Pier is one of many waterfront developments tangled in a legal battle over paying a Tidelands lease to the state. And despite recent landowner and developer wins in court cases, the Secretary of State’s Office continues to appeal the rulings.

Cree Cantrell, President of the Biloxi Businessmen’s Club, says fighting over tidelands just stalls development. He says the businessmen are disappointed in Watson’s hardline approach, especially since he’s from the coast.

“There seems to be no standard calculation for what a Tidelands lease is worth from property to property, from development to development. Each one is different, and that’s all a matter of public record. You can look that up,” Cantrell said. “There’s just no standard, so it makes it difficult for developers coming to assess the environment to understand the rules of the game are.”

The letter also questions the use of Tidelands funds to pay for the legal efforts in this battle.

“To use these funds to fight against us is simply wrong.” the letter reads.

See the full letter and all those who signed it, below:

The Biloxi Businessmen’s Club drafted a letter this month to Secretary Watson asking that he...
The Biloxi Businessmen’s Club drafted a letter this month to Secretary Watson asking that he reconsider how his office handles Tidelands issues.(Biloxi Businessmen’s Club)

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