Measure proposes clearing of property on Point Cadet

Biloxi’s debris-removal workers could clear storm debris from private property on Point Cadet under a measure passed by the City Council this afternoon.

The resolution, which was proposed by Mayor A.J. Holloway and approved unanimously by council members, sets up a FEMA-approved mechanism where city debris teams would enter private property to clear debris or partially destroyed structures that have been declared public health or safety threats.

Initially, the private property measure would be limited to property east of Oak Street, the easternmost section of the Biloxi peninsula where Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage to homes and businesses. (To see a map showing an initial assessment of storm damage in Biloxi, click here.)

The resolution passed this afternoon abbreviates a process that normally requires several weeks notification before a governmental agency could perform work on private property. The debris removal would be done at no cost to the property owner. Normally, governmental agencies would assess a lien against the land to pay for clearing private property.

“We’ve invested a lot of thought and research into this issue,” Mayor Holloway said. “The fact is, Hurricane Katrina reduced some areas east of Oak Street where structures once stood to debris fields. If we don’t remove this debris now, it will turn into a safety and health hazard in the short term and become an eyesore that the individual property owners will have to remove at their own expense.

“Our plan is to do what’s best for the overall city and also be fair to the individual property owners. We’re going to take measures to notify property owners, give them time to salvage anything on their property worth salvaging, and also have a mechanism where they can either give us approval to clear the property at the government’s expense or appeal the decision that it be condemned.”

The city is 10 days into a debris-removal contract where contractors are hauling truckloads of debris from city rights-of-way. As of this afternoon, more than 250,000 cubic yards had been hauled to two sites north of Interstate 10. The volume of debris hauled since Sept. 11 is enough to cover a football field and stand 13 stories high.

Holloway said no workers would clear any private property for at least two weeks, since public notices identifying the property would have to be published seven days in advance and signs also would be posted on the property scheduled for clearing.

To read the resolution passed by the council this afternoon, click here.

News and notes

Nationwide Q&A: Mayor A.J. Holloway will take questions from a national cable TV Wednesday morning from 8 to 8:30 a.m. CT when he appears on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.”

Daily contraflow: Motorists crossing the I-110 bridge over the Bay of Biloxi may have noticed more northbound lanes each afternoon, Biloxi Police are employing a contraflow plan each mid-afternoon where northbound motorists are allowed to use the I-110 southbound ramp at Division Street. The contraflow ends north of the bridge’s span. Police warn that motorists should travel against usual traffic patterns only when directed by officers.

Full-screen video: Visitors to the city’s web site can now get a wider, full-screen view of storm videos taken from City Hall during Hurricane Katrina. Go to the site and see the videos by clicking here.