by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner –

During the recent Pass Christian Board of Aldermen meeting Tuesday, June 20, 2023 at the city municipal court, a recommendation of a change in the development code was proposed by the planning commission.  After a very brief discussion about the adoption of a 3.0 Development Code, the Board of Aldermen unanimously passed the changes.

Due to numerous public hearings, discussions, and review of the development code ordinance, the Pass Christian Planning Commission made a proposal to the alderman through city planner.

“We don’t see any reason for people building in areas of the city, which if it was a floodway instead of a velocity zone, there is no reason to prohibit people from building,” said Pass Christian City Attorney Malcolm Jones, who provided a map for the Board of Aldermen when discussing these changes in the Smart Code 2.0.  “These provisions need to change, and we can’t have a zoning ordinance prohibiting someone from building, which would probably be unconstitutional.  I think it was intended to be a way for Dr. Bounds to set a code where people would not want to build in low lying areas.”

Former Pass Christian City Planner; Dr. Jeff Bounds, put together the original Smart Code after the town was devastated by Hurricane Katrina on August 2005.  Bounds original plan concluded town mandates houses of at least 3,000 square feet in the Estate zone and 1,000 square feet in all other zones.

 At the time, new elevation requirements will certainly require that homes go to a base flood elevation of up 16 feet or more, with expensive foundations radically beefed up to withstand the next surge.  For years after the storm, subsidized flood insurance capped out at $250,000, and while expensive market-rate flood insurance is available to supplement that, the risk of building along the western beach remains all too clear to insurers and potential homeowners.

All of these recommendations have had public hearings and reviews by the planning commission and the Building Code Office.  The Board of Aldermen approval begins the process of opening more areas of development in the city.

With a new administration coming in 2021, the current code had begun to make strides toward changes.  The main adjustments were:

  • Updates on building setbacks
  • Encroachments into setbacks
  • Parking standards
    • Swimming Pool Setbacks
    • Tree Provisions
    • Prohibited Signage
    • Add definitions for Sight Triangle
    • Electronic Message Boards
    • Front Yard, Side Yard, & Rear Yard
    • Expiration after 1 year planning commission approvals
    • Special Use Permits without Issuance of a permit
    • Remove MUC portion of code