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Biloxi Intensifies Efforts to Enforce Building Codes, Land-use Ordinances

From: City of Biloxi  Vincent Creel
Filed 5/1/06  GCN

Police officers are now playing a role in the enforcement of construction codes and land-use ordinances in Biloxi, where an increasing amount of residential and commercial construction is taking place.

“We’ve worked for years educating the public on the need to obtain the proper permits, to make sure that contractors are city licensed, and, most importantly, that no money is ever paid in advance and only after the city has inspected and approved any repair work,” said Community Development Director Jerry Creel.

”We’re seeing an increase in construction and an increase in the amount of workers coming into our community. It’s important that construction codes, particularly life-safety issues, and land-use ordinances are respected. That’s where enforcement comes in.”

The city intensified its code-enforcement efforts last week, after firefighters responding to a Main Street building fire found a number of people apparently residing in makeshift sleeping quarters on the second floor of the building. The fire department is investigating the blaze as a possible arson, and utilities have been disconnected to most of the structure.

“Our code enforcement staff is now working closely with the police department to ensure that any stop-work orders are respected, and we’re actively pursuing improper uses, particularly cases where vacant buildings are being covertly used as apartments.”

Property owners are encouraged to report any suspected code violations or improper uses of property. Report any suspected violations to the Community Development Department at 435-6280 or via e-mail to code@biloxi.ms.us

“Our city staff is working hard to oversee the massive amount of public and private work taking place throughout our city,” Creel said, “but we need the cooperation of our residents and business owners.”


Make sure to get proper permits

Some residents are discovering that they may be ineligible for state-administered homeowners grants because they failed to obtain the proper city permits for repair work.

“Having the proper permits actually protects the property owner,” said Community Development Director Jerry Creel. “By having the city inspect the work, you’re ensuring that the work meets construction and life-safety codes. This procedure protects your investment – not only the money you spent for the repair work, but it protects the investment you have in your home overall.”

Community Development Department staff can also answer questions and provide resources of information for those needed assistance.

The Community Development Department, which is housed in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Municipal Building on MLK Boulevard in downtown Biloxi, is open weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can read more about the department and the city's land-use ordinances online at biloxi.ms.us/communitydevelopment

Said Creel: “The important thing is to follow the procedures, and ask questions if you’re unsure. Our community has been victimized once already with the hurricane itself, and we don’t want to see people victimized again in the re-building process.”

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