Hurricane Katrina

Gulfport waives most permit fees

GULFPORT - Residents of Gulfport can expect a little welcome financial relief as the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to waive building, electrical, plumbing and mechanical permit fees and plan review fees in excess of $100 for all repairs to and rebuilding of homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, effective today. The waiver will be effective for 18 months, retroactive to Aug. 29, 2005.

From now on, residents will be required to pay only a flat fee of $100, said Kelly Jakubik, city spokesman.

In the resolution was also the reimbursement upon request of permit fees in excess of $100 that have been paid since August 29 for homes damaged or destroyed by Katrina.

While the city is still working on the reimbursement application, which will be available shortly, residents can expect to be required to provide proof of ownership, residency and permit payment upon requesting reimbursement, said Ward 2 Councilwoman Libby Milner-Roland.

FEMA site disallowed

The City Council voted unanimously to disallow a FEMA trailer park/mobile home site on John Hill Boulevard near Lowe's, originally approved with a 6-1 vote in early November, despite warnings of possible litigation from city attorney Harry Hewes.

Representatives from businesses near the proposed site and other people expressed concerns about road safety and economic impact on an area zoned for industrial use.

Rick Weaver, who has been handling housing issues for the city since Katrina, and Rafaela Monchek, group-site coordinator for FEMA, both expressed concern about scuttling the development, in which FEMA has already invested more than $100,000 in cleaning up and infrastructure improvements.

Weaver assured council members that there were still about 200 families in need of housing in Gulfport.

"This will be the last trailer park that we have to put in the city limits of Gulfport," Weaver said.

Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines, Ward 3, who has been leading efforts recently to prevent the proposed site from taking root in her ward, said the roadway would not support the site and high industrial traffic would be slowed and be a danger to residents.

More bickering

At the start of Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Brent Warr used his Mayor's Report to publicly admonish unnamed council members.

"I'm very concerned the path that we're taking," Warr said. "I've had a difficult time communicating with you."

Warr said he thought the City Council is beginning to overstep its bounds and encroach on areas outside its duties.

"We're getting erroneously close to some issues that we need to back off from," Warr said. "It seems to me that everybody wants to cooperate so long as I'm cooperating with y'all, not if y'all are cooperating with me."

Councilman Jackie Smith, Ward 4, assured the mayor that he was communicating with him often, as did Councilwoman Barbara Nalley.

Nalley also went on to admonish the mayor in return for his method of communicating his disapproval with the council.

"I am a little disappointed that you chose the Mayor's Report to bring this up," Nalley said.

Both Warr and Nalley then accused each other of not telling the whole truth in regards to communication problems.