City moves forward on issue of Katrina-damaged properties

The City Council on Tuesday will consider adding eight more Katrina-damaged properties to a program designed to prompt owners to either repair or demolish those properties determined to be blighted.

And the city will soon be meeting with owners of a half-dozen, high-profile properties that were recently identified as candidates for the program, which is the result of year-old legislation designed to rid the community of storm-damaged properties that have essentially sat vacant since Hurricane Katrina struck more than six years ago.

Under the provisions of legislation — exclusive to Biloxi and passed overwhelmingly by the state legislature — the city is authorized to inspect Katrina-damaged commercial buildings or apartment complexes and determine if the structures are a blight to the community.

The measure provides extraordinary authority. Previously, state statutes allowed the city to compel property owners to only make their property secure and address any safety issues. Under the new provision, city representatives – including code inspectors and representatives of the police and fire departments – will meet with property owners to set a timetable to make repairs deemed necessary or for demolition of the structures.

If the property owner fails to take action, the city can perform the work and place an assessment of as much as $75,000 against the property.

Among those locations that were unanimously cited by the City Council at its Nov. 15 meeting are 918 Howard Ave., which is the former location of Merchiston Hall furniture store; 120 Reynoir St., the former diocesan administration building; 111 Rue Magnolia St., the Fountain Square building; 725 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., the former federal courthouse; 732 Bayview Ave., a former seafood factory; and 808 Beach Blvd., a former Hancock Bank location.

Among the properties included on the agenda Tuesday are
274 Oak St., owned by Agoshi, LLC; 208 Reynoir St.,
Mickey Bellande;

200 Beauvoir Road,
Broadwater Development, LLP;
306 Debuys Road,
Michael D. and Gerald W. Haydel;
319 Caillavet St.,
Hong X. Ngo;

1762 Beach Blvd., Paladin Beach Investments, LLC;
295 Howard Ave., Binh Vu; and
131 Althea St.,
Gene Warr.

More on the issue

The statute: To see the signed copy of the bill governing the enhanced code enforcement initiative, click here.

The initial properties: To see photographs of the properties initially identified for the program, click here.

City Desk: Community Development Director Jerry Creel discusses the code enforcement issue and other development in Biloxi in the City Desk program recorded this morning. To listen to the program, click here.

Other news and notes

Weekend preview: To see the weekend’s entertainment lineup, as compiled by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, click here.

Council meetings: The Biloxi City Council will conduct two public meetings on Tuesday. The first, at 11 a.m., will focus on the proposed new Stormwater Management Ordinance, and the second meeting, at 1:30 p.m., will be the council’s regularly scheduled meeting. To see the agenda for the afternoon meeting, click here.

Stormwater issue: Christy LeBatard, a city engineer who has worked on the state-mandated stormwater management plan, discussed the issue in the Nov. 17 City Desk program. You can find the Nov. 17 program in the City Desk player archives by clicking here.

City holidays: Non-emergency city offices in Biloxi will be closed for the Thanksgiving holidays on Thursday and Friday.

Visitors Center: The Biloxi Visitors Center, which has hosted more than 10,000 visitors since Aug. 1, will be closed Thursday but will re-open Friday at 8 a.m.

Your lineup of holiday events in Biloxi

The annual lineup: To see the schedule for the city’s annual lineup of holiday fare – Christmas on the Water, the children’s walking parade and more – click here.

Tour of art: Gallery 782, the gallery on Water Street, will host a free Holiday Open House on Friday, Dec. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. Refreshments will be served, Details: (228) 436-7782. To print a flier about the event, click here.

Tour of homes: The second annual Biloxi Elks 606 Holiday Tour of Homes will take place Sunday, Dec. 4 from 1 to 4 p.m. on Seal Avenue in Biloxi. Advance tickets are $15 each and are available at the Biloxi Elks Lodge or the Biloxi Visitors Center. To see a list of the homes and other information about the tour, click here.