Biloxi cracks down on damaged slabs, code violations


 The pieces are remnants of Hurricane Katrina’s rage. This week, another concrete slab on Biloxi’s beach front is finally being torn-up and hauled away. The foundation, now in chunks, was where a barbeque restaurant once stood.

Biloxi’s Community Development Director Jerry Creel said most slabs no longer meet city building codes and flood elevation requirements.  He considers them unstable and unsanitary.

“It creates a haven for rats and snakes,” said Jerry Creel.  “We get reports of rats running out of these sewer lines from adjacent neighbors.  So it’s clearly a public nuisance.”

After Katrina, the city council gave property owners a four year grace period to remove their storm-damaged slabs. That moratorium expired last October.  So the city is putting the pressure on property owners to clear away their derelict foundations.

“We had a couple of people that didn’t like it.  And when I asked them why, they said they didn’t want to spend the money to clean it up,” said Creel.

The city of Biloxi isn’t taking all the credit for cleaning up the concrete slabs.  In many cases, the property owners stepped in and took action.

“Probably 95 percent have agreed to work with us and hire their own contractor,” said Creel.  “For those that requested to take it on their own, we really appreciate that.”

Creel said it’s time to get rid of the visible, yet unsightly reminders of Katrina.  

“We want people to be proud of the beach front.  We don’t want to continue to look like a disaster zone.  We want the property to be safe and sanitary and clean and marketable, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” Creel said.

In dealing with code violation cases in Biloxi, the city can take the violators to community court or the city council can adopt a resolution to have the property removed.  The clean-up and demolition costs would then be assessed to the owner’s property taxes.

By Trang Pham-Bui

WLOX- ch 13


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