Overturn preservation board’s decision despite litigation

After lengthy discourse, the Pass Christian Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously to overturn the decision of the Historic Preservation Committee recommendation and approve a controversial parking lot project.

Before the vote Tuesday, the board — minus Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot, who was reportedly in training — heard the discussion from both city attorney Malcolm Jones and opposition attorney Henry Laird.

Jones recommended that the board overturn last week’s Historic Preservation Committee’s 5-1 denial of the parking lot application.

Laird challenged Jones on the matter, discussing the 1922 Mexican Gulf Hotel lot and telling the board that this matter did not follow the municipal laws because alderman had not voted on this procedure before the city bought this property from the Sazerac Group, LLC.

“We have been working with the people since January,” said Pass Christian Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott. “It’s like there is some conspiracy theory happening, as people from three miles away are laying some claim on this property.”

“How can we be more compatible?” Jones asked, noting that the city was following the smart code procedure and legally adhering to the area’s zoning. Ward 3 Alderman Anthony Hall asked both attorneys if the difference in this plan is “construction” or “structure.”

Jones said the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Commission and all other city departments was to make recommendations to the board of aldermen, not to make any decisions. Laird countered that the city acting as an agent of this purchase, did not allow the board to vote. Even with the Pass Christian approval of the parking lot application, the city is still under litigation from plaintiffs (Jeff & Amy Steiner) in Harrison County Chancery Court. Jones said that the case would not stop the parking lot construction.

Story by Hunter Dawkins