Harrison County

Go-karts, new wedding venue are a go in Biloxi

This historic 1875 house on Beach Boulevard is adjacent to the Biloxi Lighthouse Park. The city council on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, approved re-zoning the property so it can be used as an event venue.
This historic 1875 house on Beach Boulevard is adjacent to the Biloxi Lighthouse Park. The city council on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017, approved re-zoning the property so it can be used as an event venue. meperez@sunherald.com file

A new high-tech go-kart track and a new event venue are a go after the Biloxi Council gave the OK to both on Tuesday.

Last week councilman George Lawrence had asked for a public hearing after residents raised concerns about the noise and fumes from the proposed track.

Louise Batemen, who lives in an apartment near the former Slippery Sam’s amusement park, said she and neighbors are concerned about noise and fumes.

Bobby Heinrich, representing Finishline Performance Sporting, said the cars produce lower decibels than busy roads or riding lawn mowers. The race cars are high-tech. “There’s hardly any emissions that come out of these go-karts,” he said.

Two-thirds of the property is zoned Community Business, said Community Development Director Jerry Creel, which means a go-kart track is permitted without council approval. The developer needed a permit from the council for the strip along U.S. 90 zoned Waterfront.

The vote was 7-0 in favor of the attraction, and Lawrence rescinded the request for a public hearing but asked the city to monitor the noise and emissions for six months.

Some site work has already begun and Councilman Nathan Barrett asked, “How soon can you get it open?”

“As soon as possible,” Heimlich replied.

New venue

The council also approved the zoning change for a block adjacent to the Biloxi Lighthouse Park, which will allow Tammy Carnes to open an events venue for small weddings and parties in a historic home.

The house was built in 1875 as part of the Lopez plantation.

Plan for downtown

Much of the meeting was spent reviewing a Downtown Restoration Plan.

“We’re not asking you tonight to adopt this plan or its elements,” said Gerald Blessey, an attorney for the city.

He said most of the goals for the next year are already funded — exterior renovations to the Saenger Theatre, pedestrian crosswalks over U.S. 90 at MGM Park and the Small Craft Harbor and returning Howard Avenue to two-way traffic.

Since Biloxi started talking about the downtown plan, two national developers have come to Biloxi to scope it out, Blessey said.

In other action Tuesday:

▪ The council also approved a zoning change to allow an expansion of the convenience store at Circle K Stores in north Biloxi.

▪ Residents of Santa Maria del Mar senior housing off Popp’s Ferry Road in north Biloxi asked the city to reconsider funding a Coast Transit Authority bus in that area. Mike Leonard, chief administrative officer, said the city will be able to give it a 6-month trial.

▪ Residents also complained about the shortened hours at the pool at the Donal Snyder Center. Leonard said it is temporary until more lifeguards can be hired.

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