Mayor previews comprehensive plan process, other projects

Here is the prepared text of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s presentation to the Biloxi Kiwanis Club, delivered Monday, March 3, 2008 during a luncheon at Biloxi Regional Medical Center.

Thank all of you for being here. I’m going to give you a quick update on where we are on a number of issues and save plenty of time to hear your questions.

Tomorrow, we’ll be approaching the City Council to begin work on an update of our comprehensive plan.

A comprehensive plan is a public statement about the future growth and development of our city. The state mandates that every city have a formal comprehensive plan and that it be updated regularly.

This is our first update since Katrina. On one hand we’ll have a lot of work to do, and on the other hand, we’ve already got a head start with our Reviving the Renaissance report, which is guiding our recovery now.

The first step in the comprehensive plan will be a detailed survey of the residents of Biloxi. Essentially, we’re going to call and ask how you’re doing.

We want to know what’s on your mind, what you think is important to your quality of life. What have an idea, but we want to hear it from you.

The comprehensive plan is also going to include an update of our land-use and zoning ordinances, architectural design standards, and I’m sure we’ll learn even more about smart growth, new urbanism and so on.

Guiding our comprehensive plan process will be Wallace Roberts and Todd, a planning firm that has done extensive work in Baltimore; Charleston County and Hilton Head, South Carolina; Coral Springs, Fla., East Hampton, NY, and other cities.

This process will take about a year with numerous public hearings and outreach. It’s going to cost $650,000 and will be funded by grants.

We have design work underway on several major transportation projects. Let me tell you about a few of them.

— On Brashier Road, we’ve budgeted $1.25 million for improvements. The topographical survey has been complete and design work continues.

— On Brodie Road, where we’ve also budgeted $1.25 million for improvements, design work is 15 percent.

— And on the widening of Popp’s Ferry Road from Cedar Lake to the city limits, design work is 80 percent complete and we’re performing appraisals and review appraisals. We’ve budgeted $7.4 million for this project.

— We have design work underway on creating boulevards at Veterans Avenue and Pine Street, and this year, we’ll be repaving Irish Hill Drive and Pass Road, as well as rebuilding Howard Avenue from MLK Boulevard to Myrtle Street.

— On Thursday, we’ll have one of the first public meetings about the Popp’s Ferry bridge and approaches to the bridge. We’re beginning an environmental assessment, which is a process to determine the best option to improve the flow of traffic on Popp’s Ferry. You can drop by anytime between 5:30 and 7:30 at the Donal Snyder Center.

— Some of you may have read last week where we closed on the BP property at Porter and Highway 90. This land was just under 20,000 square feet and we purchased it for $572.000 or the appraised price of $30 a square foot.

— Tomorrow, I will again ask the City Council for authority to begin eminent domain proceedings for the property on the west side of Porter Avenue.