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Biloxi City Council to Consider Dropping Requirements for Setback Variances
Proposal Would Allow Homeowners In City's Oldest Section to Rebuild

By Keith Burton    GCN     11/10/06

The Biloxi City Council on Tuesday will tackle one of the most difficult decisions where the outcome may determine whether Biloxi's oldest area can recover from Hurricane Katrina. The proposal would allow homeowners to rebuild homes on lots that do not meet the current building lot size requirements, but had long existed on the Biloxi peninsula and Point Cadet prior to Katrina.

Ward 2 Councilmember Bill Stallworth (photo right) plans to submit an ordinance that is designed to assist residents rebuild their homes built generations ago on lots that may not satisfy present-day front, side or rear setback requirements.

The measure would be limited to owner-occupied single family structures that would occupy a footprint no larger than the pre-Katrina structure.

“This is an emergency measure,” the proposed ordinance reads, “necessitated by the scope of the recovery effort and the devastating depopulating effect of Hurricane Katrina, (and) therefore this relief shall be limited in time to a one-year period.”

Community Development Director Jerry Creel  cautioned councilmembers that such an ordinance, if passed, could re-create public safety issues that existed pre-Katrina and sidestep state statutes requiring that neighboring property owners be notified of any requests for variances.

The lot size requirements have been among the most thorny for the city in rebuilding East Biloxi. If the ordinance passes, many Biloxi residents living in FEMA trailers may be able to return to their property to rebuild. The ordinance will also allow for structures such as the Katrina Cottages and larger structures that would be more suitable for small families.

The main issue for many East Biloxi residents will be whether they can afford to rebuild and whether the new height requirements will make any rebuilding too expensive.

You can read the  the full text of the proposed variance ordinance, by clicking here.

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