FAQ regarding city’s debris-removal plan

Q: I’ve read where the city intends to remove debris from private residential property in the areas of Point Cadet, Eagle Point and Holly Hills. How is the process going to work?

A: Initially, the city identified Point Cadet, Eagle Point and Holly Hills as areas where it intended to enter private residential property to remove debris. These three areas were made a priority because of their huge amounts of debris.

If you own property in any of those three areas, you should contact the Community Development Department (either in person at 676 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, by telephone at 435-6280 or via e-mail at dking@biloxi.ms.us) to either sign a Right of Entry Agreement that allows the city to remove debris from your property, or you can notify the city that you plan to remove the debris yourself.

To see the right-of-entry form, click here.

To see the right of entry and condemnation form, click here.

The city has published public notices listing the names of property owners, parcel numbers and addresses of properties on Point Cadet, Eagle Point and Holly Hills where it intends to remove debris. Signs were posted on individual properties to help notify owners of the city’s intent, and public hearings are planned where property owners can appeal the city’s intent to clear their property.

Click on these links to see the public notices published by the city:

Eagle Point notice.

Holly Hills notice.

Point Cadet notice.

Regardless of the position of individual property owners, the decision on whether the city will remove debris from private property will be based on whether the debris constitutes a threat to public safety or public health, and, if you propose to remove the debris yourself, the city will determine whether your plan is acceptable. The fact is, public safety and health concerns are going to drive this effort.

Q: Are there any plans for the city to remove debris from private property located in areas other than Point Cadet, Eagle Point or Holly Hills?

A: Private residential properties outside of the condemnation areas are indeed eligible to have the city remove debris; in fact, the city has already announced plans to remove debris from private property in a large section of east Biloxi.

Biloxi property owners with debris on their property should visit the Community Development Department on MLK Boulevard to sign a Right of Entry Agreement. Once that form is signed, the city will have the ability to clear the property.

However, property owners should understand that the city is focusing on clearing private residential properties only where a threat to public health or safety exists. Otherwise, the property owner will be responsible for moving debris to the curb or roadside, where the city will then pick it up.

Signing a Right of Entry Agreement does not necessarily mean that the city will remove debris from your property; it only gives the city the right to enter the property should it be deemed a threat to public health or safety.

Q: Will the city also remove storm debris from commercial property?

A: In mid-November, after requests from the city of Biloxi, FEMA agreed to reimburse the city for expenses involving the removal of debris rom commercial properties — on a case-by-case basis. Comemrcial property owners, as a result of this announcement, should complete a right of entry form, just as the city is advising residential property owners to do.

Meantime, property owners, if able, are encouraged to move debris from their property to the curb or roadside, where city are better able to remove it.

Q: What if I do not want the city to remove debris from my property?

A: You can post a sign on your property that reads “Private property — do not remove debris.” Property owners are not obligated to sign a Right of Entry Agreement. However, if the debris on your property – whether it’s residential or commercial – is deemed to be a threat to public safety or health, the city may take measures to resolve the issue.

Once the city’s debris removal contract has expired, the city will eventually begin code-enforcement proceedings in cases where debris constitutes a threat to public safety or health, and property owners will either have to remove the debris or the city may be forced to remove it and place a lien against the property to cover the costs of removal.

Q: What is the timetable for the city to clear debris from private property?

A: Under its debris removal plan, the city is working to expeditiously remove all hurricane debris. The initial priority was to remove debris from all public rights of way.

The city is on its second of four passes through the city. Under its plan, the city has had three separate contractors – with as many as 300 debris-removal teams – hauling debris from city rights of way since Sept. 11. The teams, who are being overseen by the firm Neel-Schaffer, have worked 12-hour days seven days a week to haul debris from city rights of way to two approved sites north of Interstate 10.

As of mid-November, more than 1 million cubic yards of debris had been hauled, which would equate to a pile large enough to cover a football field and stand more than 47 stories high.

On Oct. 19, the city began removing debris from devastated privately owned Point Cadet residential properties where property owners had signed a Right of Entry Agreement. However, the city cannot guarantee a timeframe on when debris would be removed from any particular private property, except to say that it will be removed as expeditiously as possible.

The fact is, in embarking on the extraordinary measure of clearing debris from private property, the city has endeavored to provide appropriate public notice to protect the rights of individual property owners.

Any property owner who has the means and the opportunity to move debris to the curb or roadside in front of their property should do so now.

Regarding the timeframe of the overall storm debris removal efforts, the city plans to continue its efforts as long as necessary. The timeframe will be influenced by FEMA’s reimbursement schedule. Currently, FEMA is reimbursing the city 100 percent of the cost of debris removal through Nov. 28, but the city has asked the state’s congressional delegation in Washington to seek extension of that deadline.

Q. What is the city’s plan to remove abandoned cars and trucks that were damaged by the storm?

A: Vehicles found during the debris-removal process, either on public rights of way or on private property, are considered storm-related debris. These vehicles may pose a threat to public safety and public health because they contain gasoline, oil, and since they may have been inundated by storm water, they may contain mold and mildew.

Under the city’s storm-debris removal plan, these vehicles will be tagged with a brightly colored “Towing Notice” that alerts owners that the vehicles may be towed within 48 hours.

As of mid-November, more than 1,800 vehicles have been marked for towing, and towing was scheduled to begin by the third week in November.

The city’s ultimate goal is to move the vehicles to a central location and take steps to reunite them with their owners. Owners will not have to pay a fee for vehicles towed by the city’s storm-debris removal teams, nor will there be any storage fee since the vehicles will be stored on public property.

If your vehicle has been tagged for towing and you have other plans for the vehicle, simply remove the “Notice of Towing” sticker, and crews will attempt to work around the vehicle.

Q: Debris-removal contractors damaged my fence when removing debris. Will they replace the fence or reimburse me?

A: All claims for damage are the responsibility of the debris-removal contractors. Those contractors and their areas of responsibility are:

Point Cadet to central Biloxi: Yates Construction

West Biloxi and area north of Bay but south of I-10: Crowder-Gulf joint venture,

Woolmarket and areas north of I-10: Ceres Environmental

Debris monitors working in each area of the city can provide a damage report for property owners and help resolve complaints and damage.

Contact Neel-Schaffer at (228) 374-1211 or e-mail jkiser@neel-schaffer.com if you need assistance in dealing with the contractor or have damage to your property resulting from debris removal.