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Debate over controversial Biloxi hotel development not over yet

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – As far as the Harrison County Lodging Development is concerned, it has resolved the biggest worries by residents around the site south of Father Ryan Avenue.

“This developer wants to be a good neighbor,” said attorney Gerald Blessey. “So, he’s heard those concerns. So, he’s made the changes they’ve asked for.”

Out is the multi-story, 180-room Residence Inn on the north side.

Out is the plan to use property on Father Ryan as an emergency exit.

The popular Aqua Suites, a boutique hotel, will remain in the plans on the south side.

“So, you’ll have one hotel and where the Residence Inn had been proposed, this revision leaves it as the current zoning, which is RM-20, which is multi-family,” Blessey said. “So, it would be apartments or townhouses or whatever the current zoning allows.”

But some residents are still worried. That’s because the developer is also seeking approval of a Planned Development Hospitality Business Overlay district on the entire property.

Resident Michael Kavanagh said that district would supersede any other zoning and open the door wide open for whatever the developer wanted.

“We object to the PD-HB zoning because it’s a blank check essentially,” Kavanagh said. “So, we don’t have any guarantee what would go in there.”

He doesn’t believe there would be any legal guarantee to follow the multi-family code.

“What assurances do we have that they will be built to those guidelines?” Kavanagh said. “Also, what assurances do we have that they won’t change their mind and decide, ‘No, we want to put a restaurant or an entertainment district back there?’ “

Harrison County Lodging will begin work on the boutique hotel this summer as phase one of its overall development. The apartments will be built behind the Aqua Suites sometime in the future.

A public hearing on the request is scheduled for Tuesday’s city council meeting at 6 p.m.

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