by Calvin Ishee
On a very hot and humid evening, after an already extremely long and at sometimes contentious meeting, the Pass Christian Board of Alderman retreated to another long Executive Session. The agenda simply stated, “Consider going into Executive Session to discuss personnel matter in the Police Department, as requested by Alderwoman Charlot.”
After thirty minutes or even longer, Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott came out of the Executive Session and stated, “They’re going to be in there a while, I’ve had enough of it”.
A few minutes later Ward 4 Alderman Victor Pickich also exited the Executive Session but without comment. With five minutes left, both Mayor McDermott and Alderman Pickich exited the ongoing meeting without offering why they were leaving the meeting early. The remaining board members and City Attorney Malcolm Jones came out a short time later and announced that “no action” was taken during the lengthy Executive Session. The Board promptly voted to recess until their next meeting.
Pass Christian resident Frances Hoffman rose again to formally ask the Board to consider holding an advertised hearing to discuss a temporary moratorium to restrict future development at the intersection of Menge Ave and Second Street, in the T4 zone.
Hoffman reiterated her objections of increased traffic, commercial property is not conducive to this neighborhood, drainage problems, etc. She implored the Board to stop all construction projects in this area until the Smart Code could be modified to meet her perceived shortfalls in the current Smart Code.
City Planner Danit Simon as well as City Attorney Malcolm Jones explained that by law, the property owners had the right to build accordingly and that the BOA could not simply approve an arbitrary moratorium.
Although Hoffman kept insisting that the City guarantee that no new projects would be approved until changes to the Smart Code could be made, Jones and Mayor McDermott told her that the City couldn’t make that guarantee.
During the back and forth discussion, Jones informed the Board that Hoffman had recently filed a lawsuit against the City on this matter, and that further discussion should stop. In the end the BOA voted 4-1 to send this issue back to the PC Planning Commission for further study and potential action.
The only dissenting vote came from Alderman Hall who stated that he saw no need to send the issue back to the Planning Commission because the City had no business infringing on the rights of the property owners.
Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot once again made a plea to create a City Ordinance that would require all Pass Christian residents to wear protective masks. She again cited her concerns for the health of students headed for school in a few weeks and the safety of the community.
Several Alderman questioned the necessity of this action since Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves had already issued an Executive Order requiring masks in Harrison County. The Board voted 5-0 to further study the need for the City to develop it’s own mask ordinance.
In personnel matters the Police Department hired three new people to support their new Dispatch Center, accepted a resignation letters from police officers Haley Overstreet and Daniel McKinney as well as Donald Jones from the Harbor Department.
Due to the Special Election regarding renewal of franchise with Mississippi Power on August 4th, the first BOA meeting in August has been moved to Monday, August 3rd.