Council to hear Mayor’s new waterfront design standards, guidelines

Biloxi has 243 miles of waterfront, twice as much as all other Mississippi Gulf Coast cities combined, and Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich believes the city needs to protect and take advantage of that asset, with design standards and guidelines that promote Biloxi’s heritage and future.
Old Biloxi Yacht Club

Gilich has asked the Biloxi City Council to approve new design standards, which are driven by the Biloxi waterfront of old. The Biloxi Planning Commission has unanimously approved the measures, and the City Council has called a public hearing for Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 1:30 p.m. to further review the mayor’s proposal.

The guidelines are not mandatory; they are meant to encourage designs tied to Biloxi’s waterfront heritage, Gilich has said. The measures do not apply to residential zones.

“This proposal does not require the city to spend any city general fund money at all,” Gilich said. “What we are hoping to do is follow the example of the west Biloxi boardwalk that is in the works now. We are using city and county tidelands funds to construct this boardwalk, and we’ve applied for more tidelands and Restore Act funds to do more boardwalks. The city is not required to build any of these projects. These guidelines are simply a guide for design by any developer on the waterfront.”

In fact, to influence design of development, the proposed ordinance includes nearly 10 photographs of waterfront examples from several American cities and some old Biloxi sites that had been lost to hurricanes or development, including the Biloxi Yacht Club building that had stood at the foot of Lameuse Street, the old Buena Vista dance pavilion over the water, and the pre-Camille Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. 

“We want our waterfront to reflect an iconic Biloxi theme that fits our vision for future development ,” Gilich said. And that theme? “Safe, friendly and beautiful, with easy public access to the waterfront, on and in structures that honor the past and embrace the future.”

The new standards and guidelines seek to change the basic designs from a “street-based approach” to a “waterfront-based approach,” recognizing the unique challenges of providing fire and life safety, and law enforcement at the edge of the waterfront, in buildings and structures adjacent to the waterfront.

Among the key standards:

— A 25-foot setback from the water’s edge, to encourage pedestrian access and access for fire and life safety vehicles.

— No structure that would block access along the water’s edge.

— No skyward-directed lighting.

— No above-ground utilities.


See and hear for yourself
See photos included in the design standards and guidelines
See the design standards and guidelines
City Desk: Hear background on the design standards and guidelines
Video bonus: Visit the waterrfront community of Gig Harbor, Wash.