by Calvin Ishee

Following a great deal of discussion and several objections, the Pass Christian Board of Alderman approved Application PD-24-2018, Re-Subdivision and Variance request by a vote of 4-1, the only nay vote coming from Ward 1 Alderman Buddy Clarke. This request, previously and unanimously approved by the Planning Commission, included the lot being divided from one lot into two. Additionally, an order was placed where both the seller and purchaser sign an agreement requiring the removal of an old shed.

Objections were raised by both business owner, Jordan Nicaud and his attorney Donald Rafferty. Rafferty restated his objections from the Planning Commission meeting that included, the lot in question is too small for commercial development, inadequate space for public parking, project is not in harmony with the community and the precedent of approving a Re-Subdivision application which takes a property that’s in compliance to one that’s not. Both Malcolm Jones, City Attorney and Danit Simon, City Planner noted that the proposed variance included language that requires the property to become compliant no later than six months after final approval of the variance. Simon stated that the Board had previously approved applications involving businesses smaller than this property and noted that the new project is still in the concept stage and probably won’t be built for another 12-18 months. She also stated that if additional variances were required, there are no guarantees they will be approved.

Nicaud expressed his full support for additional commercial development but wants it done “the right way”. He also stated his concerns for the lack of available parking for the potential new restaurant as well as the possible infringement on the parking he currently provides his customers at Bacchus on the Beach and the Hotel Pass Christian. He also mentioned that he had previously offered to purchase this property so he could further expand parking for his business.

Morton Davis, proposed purchaser, approached the Board and stated that his current plan was to build a 2,000 square foot restaurant that would be in full compliance with all applicable requirements. He said that he thought this was a great location and would be great for the city.

Although several Alderman made comments and asked questions, Clarke appeared the most concerned with approving this application. He stated “we’ve got two attorneys looking at the same issue, with two differing opinions, so who am I to believe?” In the end, Clarke was the only dissent while expressing his no vote was due to his concerns regarding the precedent being set whereas the Board approved a request that was non-compliant.

In other business the Board approved the purchase of a new patrol car. It was noted by Ward 3 Alderman Anthony Hall this is the second patrol car that’s been totaled in the last few months and expressed his concern for such. Pass Christian Police Chief Timothy Hendricks agreed with his concerns and stated that an Accident Review Panel has been established to address this issue. Further, Hendricks stated that he will report their findings at the next Board meeting.

After approving a resignation request from the Police Department, Alderman Hall asked Chief Hendricks if he had completed his case study on why the city has a large turnover rate at the Police Department. Chief Hendricks said that although he had not completed the casework, two out of three of the most recent resignations were for better money.

When the Mayor opened the floor for public comment, Dr. Phil Kahn inquired the Board for clarification on how the harbor is funded and who decides work priorities. Mayor Chipper McDermott explained that funding comes from Tidelands funding from the State and if need be the General Fund. He further stated that it’s very expensive running a harbor and unlike other communities that only has one harbor, Pass Christian has two.