By Stacey Cato

Some Pass Christian homeowners are up in arms over a proposed public parking lot the city has in store for their neighborhood.

Earlier this year, the City of Pass Christian took steps to subdivide a large parcel of land, which opens up onto Scenic Drive, to build a public parking lot.

“The property was divided into two parts,” City Attorney Malcolm Jones said “You’ve got the back part and the front part. The back part, the city purchased. The front part, the city leased. The back part we bought specifically for a parking lot.”

Homeowners Jeffrey and Amy Steiner are not happy with the city’s plan, claiming the development will shatter the peace in their historic beachfront neighborhood and fear property values will plummet by altering the residential zone.

The Steiner’s own the property adjacent to the green space. They say the city is in violation of local and state law because it did not create notice to the public or hold a public hearing to discuss the intended project with residents.

The Steiner’s filed their complaint against the City of Pass Christian and Sazerac Group, LLC in the Harrison County Chancery Court last month, seeking an injunction prohibiting the city from developing.

According to the complaint,

On or about May 16, 2017, the Mayor and Board of Alder-man (with the exception of Regina Charlot, who had not yet been elected to office) violated the City of Pass Christian Sub-division Ordinance and Sections of the Mississippi Code by attempting to re-subdivide Lot 3 Mexican Gulf Hotel Subdivision.

The complaint notes the building plan will increase vehicular and pedestrian traffic, increase noise and light, and threatens the health of ancient live oak trees located on the property. But the city disagrees.

“We believe that we followed all the rules and all of the state laws regarding that and as a result we have every right to build a parking lot in the back and to use the front for overflow parking,” Jones said. “Now, it’s not going to be used all that often, to be honest, but that’s what the city’s position is.”

Jones said he has based his opinion on extensive research he and the other party’s attorney have done.

“This was never a dedicated subdivision. It’s just four properties that’s been divided into lots, so the same rules don’t apply. The rules that apply to dedicated subdivisions are different,” he said. “It will be the sister lot to the one that’s already there.”

Jones also recognized the three oak trees that exist on the land. He said none will be harmed in the construction because the city plans to build around them.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Alderman meeting the city accepted and unsealed multiple bids for the Davis Avenue municipal parking lot.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting:

  • Discussion of the possibility of establishing a dog park in the city took place. Mary Bourdin presented several ideas on developing a city dog park to Mayor and Alderman. The city-owned proposed site on Clarke Avenue near the Randolph Center, she says, is perfect for the project. Bourdin, along with Pass Christian’s Head Librarian Wendy Allard, requested the city’s support and participation on the project. City leaders suggested first holding a public hearing to hear what resident’s have to say about the idea.
  • The Board of Alderman accepted the resignation of Beautification Laborer Thomas Faye. Leaders say Faye seized a work opportunity that he felt was more fit for his family. The city will soon begin advertising for the vacant position.
  • A lengthy executive session was held to discuss a Police Department personnel is-sue. Upon return from behind closed doors one Pass Christian police officer was demoted in rank. Because personnel matters are private there was no explanation as to why the officer was demoted.