Planning & Zoning - October 2020
- by Kyle Lewis, P&Z co-chair
Planning and Zoning met Tuesday, September 29, for our monthly meeting. I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by the great turnout of attendance especially considering the meeting preceded the first presidential debate.
The majority of the public in attendance showed up for an application presented by Bay St. Louis Homes & Properties, LLC, so I will dive right into that one. This applicant is well known to P&Z as this marked their third appearance before the commission.
Application 6: Bay St. Louis Homes & Properties, LLC
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.
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.
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:
- Traffic congestion with an estimation of 250-300 cars in the area
- Parking concerns as there is no back alley, so on-street parking would be an issue
- Access for emergency services vehicles
- Drainage and flooding concerns as seven acres of this property falls into registered wetlands and would need to have an impact and mitigation plan completed
- Stressed utilities which already exists in current phase
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
Application 2: James Development, LLC
Application 3: Hotard
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
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 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.
You may access the full agenda and many of the submitted documents pertaining to the applications here.
Thank you for your time.