Jackson County

After controversy and debate, O.S. back in the B&B business

Scott and Trinity Walker's house in Ocean Springs. The Walkers are trying to get approval from the city to rent their home as a bed and breakfast.
Scott and Trinity Walker's house in Ocean Springs. The Walkers are trying to get approval from the city to rent their home as a bed and breakfast. jmitchell@sunherald.com File

This city is back in the bed-and-breakfast business, beginning April 21.

City leaders voted this week to lift the moratorium on applications on that date when the new, updated B&B ordinance will go into effect.

They also decided how planning officials will determine how many and which of the neighbors will have a say in the prospect of having a B&B nearby.

Mayor Connie Moran was concerned that in small-lot neighborhoods, people living too far away would have a say.

The law says 60 percent of the neighbors within a 250-foot radius of the middle of the house that’s to be used as a B&B must not object.

The most recent and high-profile B&B applicants have been Scott and Trinity Walker on East Beach, who have had run-ins with their neighbors and problems with the old ordinance, under which they were eventually denied a permit. They continue to pursue a permit under that law.

Under the new ordinance there will be two ways to determine who has a say — people living on property that is 15 percent or more in the 250-foot radius and people on property along adjacent streets, but not those who are one street over.

If it sounds a little complicated, readers can see the memorandum drawn out on SunHerald.com.

The issue of sprinklers has come up in the B&B ordinance overhaul.

Here’s the city’s stance:

Walls in the rooms of a B&B have to be safe enough to allow a one-hour separation from a fire.

Many new homes have walls that are not built to those specifications. Even flame-retardant drywall might not be thick enough.

In order to have a one-hour separation, they would need 5/8-inch drywall, city building officials said.

So for some homes, a sprinkler system might be the least-expensive solution.

“Every house has to be assessed and analyzed individually,” building official Hilliard Fountain said.

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