Supervisors vote against bait shop

PASCAGOULA

 Jackson County supervisors voted 4-1 Monday against a bait shop and boat-storage business at Lake Mars boat launch in Gulf Park Estates.

David Ayers owns several lots near the county’s new $800,000 boat launch, jetty and pier. He proposed putting in a bait shop and fenced lot where 40 boats on trailers could be stored close to the popular recreation area. The county Planning Commission voted not to grant the special exception Ayers needed to put the business in a residential area, so he appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

On Monday, Ayers assured the board that his boat storage would be nothing like the one at Ocean Springs Harbor, where there’s a large building and equipment used to move boats around.

Ayers said Katrina took his home on the property, and he has been unable to sell the lots as home sites.

He pitched his business as a complement to all the new improvements at Lake Mars.

Supervisor John McKay told the board few homes have been rebuilt in the area since Katrina and there are a lot of vacant lots.

But landowners in the area disagreed and spoke againast allowing the business. They said the economy and FEMA elevations have contributed to the slow recovery but told the board people are still paying their taxes on the home sites and plan to rebuild.

They said they didn’t want to see the residential status of the area eroded by a business. They said boat storage would contribute to traffic congestion on narrow roads and a bait shop already exists close enough to satisfy the need.

In the end, it was McKay who moved that the board deny the special exception, saying he would like to see the area he represents rebuild with homes.

Supervisors Melton Harris voted for the business after being told there was little opposition to building the popular boat launch and pier. With a boat launch complete, he said, “I would expect something to follow.”

By KAREN NELSON – klnelson@sunherald.com

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