Council OKs change in Tivoli zoning

The Biloxi City Council, after listening to three hours of citizens comments during a four-hour meeting this afternoon, voted 4-to-3 to rezone nearly 30 acres of beachfront property at the former site of the Tivoli hotel to allow casino gaming.

Voting for the re-zoning were Councilmembers Mike Fitzpatrick, Charles T. Harrison Jr., William “Bill” Stallworth and Edward “Ed” Gemmill. Voting against the re-zoning were Councilmen George Lawrence, Tom Wall and David Fayard.

The measure will now be in the hands of Mayor A.J. Holloway, who has the option of approving or vetoing the council action. Should Holloway veto the measure, five councilmembers would have to vote to override his veto.

Despite the council’s vote, the Mississippi Gaming Commission — after receiving a formal application from developers — would ultimately decide whether the site is suitable and legal for gaming.

The possible re-zoning of the beachfront land in east Biloxi – 27.86 acres in all, comprising 21 separate but contiguous parcels – has sparked discussion over the intent of the state’s post-Katrina approval of on-shore gaming, and whether the Tivoli site would be appropriate because of its location directly north of the sand beach.

The state Gaming Commission several weeks ago also reminded the city that regardless of its position on the re-zoning, the Gaming Commission would be the ultimate authority on whether the site is legal and suitable.

The re-zoning proposal includes a tract of land bordered by the “mean high water line” or “toe of the seawall” on the south, Kuhn Street to the east, Howard Avenue to the north and Holley Street on the west. The area is currently zoned multi-family residential and commercial. Besides gaming, a waterfront or “WF” designation would allow residential, commercial and amusement uses on the site.