BILOXI -- Back on the agenda for the Biloxi Planning Commission Thursday were an exchange of land to allow a hotel and retail development downtown and a possible overlay district in East Biloxi to allow short-term vacation rentals.
The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the land swap that would give Pegasus Development Group all the land from U.S. 90 to Water Street, west of Croesus Street. Biloxi would get all the land south of the Mardi Gras Museum to the Hancock Bank property and $135,000, which is the difference in the value of the land being swapped.
Michael Cavanaugh said Biloxi came to him as attorney for the Al Copeland estate and suggested the exchange of property. The proposal was pulled off the City Council agenda last year because of concerns about parking near downtown apartments.
In this new proposal, Water Street will be open to traffic in that area and parking provided near the downtown housing. Camille Street will be vacated and Pegasus will provide land so the city can straighten the south end of Croesus Street at U.S. 90.
The Biloxi Council will vote on the property exchange and on the short term rental recommendations from the Planning Commission, which voted 11-3 to create an overlay district east of Caillavet Street with conditional use.
Jerry Creel, community development director, said this means that In East Biloxi short-term rentals of less than 30 days would allowed as a "use by right" in areas currently zoned for hotels. All other areas would be a conditional use, where the property owner would have to go before the planning commission and get approval from the City Council.
West of Caillavet Street, short-term rentals will not be allowed in single family zones. It would be allowed as a "use by right" in Community Business, Regional Business, Downtown and Waterfront zones. It will remain a conditional use in areas zoned for RM-20 and RM-30 multi-family housing.
All short-term rentals would have to comply with standards such as number of units, parking restrictions and exterior lighting.
Ruth Wall, president of the homeowners' group in Edgewater Park in West Biloxi, said she has 86 names on a petition. "We certainly are against short term rentals."
But planning commissioner August Parker said East Biloxi needs the boost short-term rentals may bring.
"We've been 10 years since the storm and nothing's happening," he said.
Commissioner Joann Humphries said landlords will fix up their properties to rent and make them an asset to the neighborhood.