It’s a grand and historic Southern home, with its tall columns and its views of the water.
Now the City Council will decide whether the family that owns the house will be allowed to turn it into an events center.
The first reading was held Tuesday for a zoning change to allow the waterfront home at 1096 Beach Boulevard to be used for weddings and other events. Councilman George Lawrence said he has questions about this project, but because it was the first reading, the council didn’t address those concerns until it’s on the agenda at the next meeting on Oct. 3.
The house is right next to the Biloxi Lighthouse Park, which hosts weddings and parties many weekends. Just beyond that are the Biloxi Lighthouse and Biloxi Visitors Center.
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The Carnes family is asking to change the zoning from Residential to Commercial Business, and notes in the application that the Lighthouse Park was residential before the park was built. The city owns six of the properties included in the application for rezoning. A parcel owned by Barbara Woods also was included to avoid leaving one parcel in the block out of the rezoning.
In her application for the zoning change, Tammy Carnes said the house was built in 1875 as part of the Lopez plantation. The interior has a distinctive wooden staircase and moldings, stained glass windows and a large mural in one of the bedrooms.
The Carnes family bought the home and adjoining property in 1998, and in 1999 it was added to Biloxi’s list of historic homes.
Preserving the historic beachfront home is costly, Carnes said, and rezoning the property to rent out for events will allow the family to help pay taxes, insurance and maintenance.
Carnes plans to partner with After The Proposal Weddings & Events, a women-owned business operating in downtown Biloxi since 2013.
“Because current local venues are fully booked up to two years in advance, our new event venue will not be in direct competition with existing local event venues,” she said. The venue will generate profit for other small business in the area and produce tax revenue for the city,” she said.
Jean McGrury, owner of After The Proposal Weddings & Events, said she turns away many destination weddings because there aren’t enough venues on the beach.
“Most clients do not want to get married directly on the beach,” she said in a letter to the council, because of the lack of restrooms and electricity. “This venue will eliminate this problem,” she said.
The Biloxi Planning Commission voted to recommend the council approve the zoning change on the 2.4-acre site.
“We believe that the rezoning of our property will positively influence the growth and development of the economy and tourism industry in Biloxi,” Carnes said, and will help preserve a piece of Biloxi’s history for others to enjoy for years to come.