The Gulfport Planning and Zoning Board concluded a two-hour meeting last Wednesday with three recommendations surrounding one issue.
Three property owners on the eastern edge of Gulfport, near Clam Bayou, requested that the City of Gulfport give them the right-of-way portions in front of their property, part of a site known as Beach Drive but not used as a roadway.
The board recommended Council approve these applications, and the Council will tentatively hear this request and recommendation at its Nov. 1 and Nov. 15 regular meetings. The issues must come before Council twice – and get a majority vote approving the applications twice – for the land to go to the homeowners.
The applicants are the property owners at 2700 44th St. S. (Tanya Ferrai), 2641 Quincy St. S. (Emily and Randolph Lumsden), and 2630 Quincy St. S. (Julius Neveker, Jr.); the latter two properties have a homestead exemption.
As part of the motion to recommend approval, the board stipulated that the shoreline must remain a living shoreline and that the uplands have a restrictive covenant prohibiting any development. City officials have previously made it clear that there is no intention of ever making Beach Drive an actual roadway.
The board also recommended to Council that the sewer and water lines adjacent to Clam Bayou get reviewed. A city official said that this would customarily be done from time to time, regardless of the final vote on these applications.
If Council ultimately gives approval, the land would go on the tax rolls as parts of the applicants’ properties adjacent to it; the property owners will not pay for the land. Whatever the result, there will be portions of land near the water that the City will not vacate, including the southern ends of both 44th and Quincy. There is also an alley that runs north-south between those two streets.
The applicants have already been through a lengthy process to get this far. To request that a tract of land be vacated, an applicant must submit surveys on property he or she owns as well as what would be vacated. Other required submissions include a copy of the deed to the applicant’s property, letters from all relevant utility companies, and a letter of agreement to vacate the right-of-way.
The Gulfport Site Plan Review Committee, a body composed solely of City staff, examined the requests first and made recommendations that they be forwarded to the Planning and Zoning Board, whose meeting last week included a required public hearing.
There were several lengthy and passionate comments from citizens at that meeting, and there will be two more opportunities for them to comment at the City Council meetings before the applications get approved or denied.