The modified Shieldsboro development plans and a major restoration of an Old Town icon were two major considerations of the P&Z Commission on September 29.
- by Kyle Lewis, P&Z co-chair
Application 6: Bay St. Louis Homes & Properties, LLC
The applicant was requesting an application for a Special Use District for Preliminary Plat Approval and Variance to the Zoning Ordinance. Those presenting the application were: Developer, Jeff Valley of Hammond, LA, Residential Designer, Bobby Heinrich of Gulfport, MS and legal representative Malcom Jones.
The applicants’ request was to change the configuration of six parcels of land into 125 new parcels of land which is located in the general area of Shieldsboro Subdivision at the corner of Old Spanish Trail and St. Charles Street located in 4th ward, Bay St. Louis. For those unfamiliar with this area, this application will be considered Phase 2 and will add to the existing infrastructure of Phase 1.
As mentioned prior, this marked the third appearance in which this application has come for approval. The first application was presented with 134 parcels and 50’ lot widths, but was denied at city council due to high density and concerns with small lot width and overall size. The overwhelming concern expressed by the public largely remained unchanged this time around, which was the continued concern over the high density presented by this project.
I want to acknowledge that both the developers and residents brought about many valid points to justify their stance on this proposed development.
I do appreciate the applicants meeting with and listening to the public and their concerns for the inadequate lot size and width on the first application. They did come back and decrease the overall density by nine lots and increased lot size to at least 60’ lot widths. The developers are eager to invest in a town that is undoubtedly as solid of a real estate investment as it gets these days.
The layout and design of the homes match the current infrastructure as the current homes in Phase 1 with an estimated price range of $300k. The goal expressed by the developers is to draw not only new families to the area, but also capture the second home and retiree population that so many are eagerly seeking in our great town.
I can certainly respect any developer’s intention in taking a large risk investment in our community. It is always my goal that we encourage great opportunities while stressing the importance of well-planned and positive developments to help grow and move our community forward.
I want to thank all of those that were in attendance and felt strongly enough to speak whether it was for or against the proposal. One of the most important and valued aspects of planning and zoning is receiving input and insight from the public.
We heard from a good number of folks and all of them except one was in opposition to the application as presented. They were not merely against the development but rather the sheer density and small lot concerns that would potentially adversely impact the area. Growth in the area was encouraged but doing so in a manner that positively adds to the area and provides adequate green space so that neighbors are not on top of each other as is the case in many other surrounding cities.
An interesting comment that was stated multiple times is that many individuals moved away from highly dense areas such as New Orleans or Hammond, where you are right on top of your neighbor, and relocated to Bay Saint Louis because of the beautiful area and the fact that you have adequate space and good size lots.
One of the concerns I had was the fact that Phase 1 took nearly 10 years to develop and is comprised of approximately 30 homes. The proposed application consists of more than four times that number. If one does the math, it could take potentially half a century to move and one can only speculate what the negative outcome could be for such a slow moving project.
The developers did address that concern and stated the project would be done in phases with the goal of 18 months being the target time to move between stages. They believe with the high demand of housing in Bay St Louis and using a more aggressive marketing approach, Phase 2 would be able to move much faster than the previous phase.
Other notable concerns discussed:
Mr. Jones diligently addressed each concern brought forward, which left some satisfied, but others still seeking a more compromised approach to address the overall density concern.
Commissoner LeBlanc made the first motion to approve, seconded by Commissioner Doescher; however, when moved to vote the approval did not carry due to Commissoner Weber and myself voting no. The vote ended in a 2-2 split which will then be presented to City Council next Tuesday, 10/6 for the final determination.
Application 1: Kohler
The applicant was asking to add an addition to the side of the residence. The applicant needed a 2’ variance to the side yard resulting in a 6’ setback and a 12’ variance to the rear resulting in an 8’ setback. Property located on Sunset Dr. There were no objections from the public nor any concerns expressed from the commission. Application passed unanimously, 4-0.
Application 2: James Development, LLC
The applicant was asking to change three parcels of land into two new parcels of land. The total lot size of the two new lots far exceeds the minimum of 12,000 sq ft, but a variance was needed for the lot widths. This property is located on Felicity Street. There were no objections from the public nor any concerns expressed from the commission. Application passed unanimously, 4-0.
Application 3: Hotard
The applicant intends to add a bathroom addition to the rear of the residence and needed a 1’ 6” variance to the rear resulting in a 18’ 6” setback where 20’ is required. Property located at 324 Main Street.
This is usually a very easy determination on such a small variance, but when I asked the applicant for his justification for needing a variance it was due to the furniture not fitting properly. Based on that rationale I couldn’t justify the hardship. Application passed 3-1 with Lewis opposing.
Application 4: Applebaum
The applicant was asking for a 10’ variance to the rear yard setback. Property located on Ballentine St. The applicant’s intent is to build a new cottage on this piece of land which has a couple of beautiful live oaks which the applicant plans to keep. Additionally, the applicant also owns the property to the rear yard where the variance is being requested.
There was a neighbor that spoke in favor of this application. There were no objections from the public nor any concerns expressed from the commission. Application passed unanimously, 4-0.
Application 5: Christian Shane Properties
The applicant’s intent is to renovate the Old McDonald Lumber property and building to include retail use and apartments, property is located on Toulme St. Variance needed is for the width and length of the parking spaces as well as a variance to the perimeter landscape by eliminating the 10’ wide landscaping strip.
The applicant was represented by John Anderson. John did a great job explaining the configuration of the parking spaces which would have 50 total spots with 35 on-site parking which included golf cart parking as well. Although the perimeter landscape was eliminated at the right of way, the overall landscaping makes up for it greatly. Very glad to see this historic building is being preserved and getting a new life. Application passed unanimously, 4-0.
There are exciting things coming every month to Bay Saint Louis and I am proud to have the opportunity to be a part of it.
You may access the full agenda and many of the submitted documents pertaining to the applications here.
Thank you for your time.