Harrison County

Biloxi now a step closer to bringing back piers to waterfront

Gerald Blessey makes the case for a new waterfront plan, which would bring back piers to the city, during a Biloxi Planning Commission meeting last month. The City Council on Tuesday held the first reading of the ordinance that would allow the plan.
Gerald Blessey makes the case for a new waterfront plan, which would bring back piers to the city, during a Biloxi Planning Commission meeting last month. The City Council on Tuesday held the first reading of the ordinance that would allow the plan. ttisbell@sunherald.com File

The developers of Margaritaville Resort Biloxi say they favor the proposed waterfront plan in the city that would require all new development to allow public access to the water.

“We definitely like what we see,” said Cono Caranna, spokesman for Barrington Development, developer of Margaritaville.

The City Council held the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday, and the final vote should come at the next meeting, Dec. 6.

Biloxi architect Walter “Buzzy” Bolton said the plan requires a 25-foot right of way along the waterfront that owners can use for cafés or access to a marina, but can’t block from public use.

He also envisions floating platforms where people can tie up their boats at waterfront restaurants and concrete or wood piers and boardwalks.

Requirements of the plan are underground utilities and no laser lights, and “90 percent of it is guidelines,” attorney Gerald Blessey said. Developers will be “encouraged” to build in the style of old Biloxi.

“I see it as pro-business,” Councilman Felix Gines said.

He doesn’t believe businesses will build out over the water, given Biloxi’s hurricane threat, but he’d like to see places to sit on a balcony and look out over the water to the islands.

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said the plan is what Biloxi wants residents and visitors to experience, to “touch the water if they can,” he said. It also is an opportunity to define the city’s expectations, he said.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

▪ Agreed ward lines should remain as they are, with revisions made after the 2020 Census.

▪ Denied a zoning change that would allow a real estate office at 391 Popp’s Ferry Road.

▪ Approved a $7 million line of credit for utility work in Woolmarket and several other projects.

▪ Voted to spend $350,000 in drug-forfeiture money on new SUVs for the police department.

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