Biloxi officials consider rezoning land for casino development

Published 12:16 am Sunday, July 23, 2006

Biloxi officials are considering whether to rezone two beach-front parcels for casino development.

The Biloxi City Council on Tuesday will consider a resolution directing the city’s Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on the proposal.

It’s likely to be a hotly debated issue.

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Mayor A.J. Holloway recently said he opposed any “wholesale zoning changes that would create more casino zoning districts in Biloxi” and that the city already had adequate land zoned for future casino development.

City and state officials have in the past kept casinos away from public sand beaches.

The two parcels being considered are from DeBuys Road east to Gateway Drive, south of the Gulf Coast Medical Center, and on the Tivoli Hotel property.

Mike Cavanaugh, a lawyer representing developers seeking the zoning changes, contends the parcels meet the requirements for a legal gambling site.

Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick, who is sponsoring the resolution, estimates rezoning the beach-front land could lead to casino projects worth up to $1 billion. He said the land could be “a real boom to the city of Biloxi.”

Councilman George Lawrence disagrees. Lawrence said residents do not want to see more of their beach-front taken up by casinos. “I told people a long time ago this was the next thing coming. This is what people don’t want,” Lawrence said.

The Mississippi Gaming Commission has final say on what is a legal gambling site, but as a policy it will not consider a request unless the local zoning is already in place.