Harrison County

Biloxi Council says no to short-term rental overlay

BILOXI -- After more than a year of study, the City Council turned down a proposed overlay district for short-term rentals and after seven years on the job, Marvin Dalla Rosa, who oversaw the $365 million infrastructure project for Biloxi, said his good-byes Tuesday.

"I think there's a place for short-term rentals," Councilman Paul Tisdale said. But he didn't like the proposal the Planning Commission recommended for an overlay district in East Biloxi and said of the ordinance, "I think it needs more work."

He and council members George Lawrence, Kenny Glavan and David Fayard voted against the overlay.

Residents who oppose short-term rentals said they were against an overlay and don't want any in their neighborhoods, where they'd have to worry about who is renting a house any given week.

The council has approved four short-term-rental units, and three of those property owners attended Tuesday's meeting to say why more would be good for Biloxi.

James Barney Foster said his neighbors saw long-term and short-term rentals. "They preferred the short-term rentals," he said. "We have to keep those houses up, just like a hotel does," he said.

Donna Munro and Joe Meek said they are remodeling their condo on Reynoir Street inside and out and have rented to families, to CEOs of Trump and other companies and to an official from Canada.

"We're getting some fantastic renters coming in," Meek said.

During a workshop before Tuesday's meeting, Dalla Rosa, who came out of retirement and commuted between his Arkansas home and Biloxi for seven years, announced he was re-retiring.

"This will be my last meeting here," said Dalla Rosa, who had been expected to work for two years as the program manager for HNTB and oversee the city's massive infrastructure project.

The city's contract with HNTB will run out in February unless more money is allocated for oversight of the program, and Nicole Dare, who has worked with Dalla Rosa for most of the seven years, will continue until the end of the contract.

City engineer Christy LaBatard showed a new tracking system Biloxi will use to illustrate progress in the North Contract in East Biloxi, north of the railroad tracks.

As of October, the North Contract is 31 percent complete, with 74 percent of the water lines in place, 21 percent of sewer lines, 14 percent of storm drains and 7 percent of the asphalt down.

Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said the new "matrix" will give city officials and residents an easy-to-read, color-coded, street-by-street look at where the work is complete across the project and what will happen next.

Tony Morrow, project manager for Oscar Renda Contracting, said he expects Bayview Avenue to Boomtown Casino to be paved by Dec. 15, and shortly after Christmas crews should begin paving along Sixth Street, Oak Street and hopefully Division Street.

Oscar Renda is the low bidder for the South Contract, south of the railroad in East Biloxi. Although the bid is $11 million lower than the second bid, city attorney Gerald Blessey said it didn't contain a required document and is being reviewed by an attorney to determine if it is legal.