City of Ocean Springs

    Minutes - August 20, 2019 - 6:00 pm Recess Meeting




    Be it remembered that the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Ocean Springs met in a Recess Meeting at City Hall in the City of Ocean Springs at 6:00 p.m. on August 20, 2019.  The Mayor presiding, Aldermen Cox, Gill, Authement, Bellman, Papania, Blackman and Impey were present.  Also present were City Clerk Patty Gaston and City Attorney Kevin Melchi.


    The Mayor called the meeting to order.


    Dr. Mike Barnett gave the invocation and the Mayor led the Pledge of Allegiance.





    Eric Holley with the Ocean Springs Adult Softball League thanked the Mayor and the Board of Aldermen for supporting the Back the Blue Robert McKeithen Memorial Tournament. He also said the Ocean Springs Adult Softball League has not been able to play or practice in Ocean Springs. He asked that the City host tournaments at the Hwy. 57 Sports Complex as a revenue stream and tourism benefit for the City. He talked about the price difference in using the D’Iberville fields vs the Hwy. 57 Sports Complex fields. Alderman Blackman thanked Eric for hosting the event and asked him to get with the Parks & Recreation Director to work out details of future use of the facility.


    Gail Bishop and Nancy Wilson gave a presentation about climate change. They said that climate change is the number one threat to our global economy. They asked that the City look at Georgetown, Texas as a benchmark for changes that could take place in Ocean Springs as Georgetown is now 100% renewable energy. They asked the Mayor and Board of Alderman to consider forming an Environmental Committee, to think globally but act locally.





    Deborah Aiken, CPA from AVL – Alexander, Van Loon, Sloan, Levens, Favre, PLLC presented the City audit for fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. She said AVL did not experience any difficulties during overview of fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. She explained the annual financial report is historical in nature and is an unmodified opinion audit. She stated that no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses were reported in the fiscal year 17-18 audit. Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to accept the audit presented by AVL.


    Mary Gill, CFO of the Ocean Springs School District presented the ad valorem request for the FY 19-20 Budget (Exhibit 4-b). The City Clerk calculated the millage change to be a 0.37 decrease, which she said is due to debt payment fluctuation and operation is remaining at 55 mills with the total request being 66.59 mills. Alderman Impey recognized Superintendent Coleman and thanked the School Board for the excellent job done with Ocean Springs being one of the top school districts in the state. Dr. Coleman responded by inviting all to the first football game in the new stadium on Friday and said the official ribbon cutting invitation will be coming soon. Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to accept the Ocean Springs School District Budget.


    The City Attorney said that there was previous discussion on feather flags and that they are not currently specifically regulated, so he drafted an ordinance change for review (Exhibit 4-c). The Planning Commission reviewed the draft ordinance and requested that it be considered that every tenant in a multi-tenant parcel would be allowed to have one flag. Alderman Blackman said he was under the impression of the previous discussion that they were not going to allow them at all. The Mayor said that he just did not want the Board policing the speech on the signs. Alderman Cox said although they do tend to become in disrepair quickly, small business owners are struggling to get attention. He suggested that feather flags be limited with restrictions but not removed completely.  Alderman Papania said he thinks that it’s a hard balancing act in maintaining the appearance of the City. He feels that if they are allowed, they should be regulated to be in good repair and limited in number allowed at each parcel. Alderman Cox said rather than each tenant in a multi-tenant parcel, only have two at entrances. Currently the ordinance reads that on Highway 90, two feather flags would be allowed. The Mayor asked that the adoption of the proposed ordinance for feather flags be tabled so that the Board could review it more carefully.Motion was made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to table Ordinance; An Amendment to the UDC; amending certain section regarding signage in commercial areas.


    Alderman Gill welcomed the citizens present from Fort Bayou Estates to voice their opinion regarding a potential land acquisition in their neighborhood discussed in executive session. He said that at the July 16, 2019 meeting a motion was made to obtain an appraisal for land. He said that land appraisal is for the land adjacent to the boat ramp in Fort Bayou Estates which was done behind his back, without his approval. He said the purpose of purchasing the land would be to divert traffic from Downtown to the boat ramp. He apologized to the other Aldermen for being so upset that night. He said word started to spread around Fort Bayou about the appraisal, that he went door to door and there was a petition going around against the land acquisition with 73 signatures. He said the residents on Bristol Blvd. are especially against it because of the increased traffic it would cause. The Mayor said that the City will talk about potential land acquisitions and pie in the sky ideas which most people don’t know about since they never materialize. He continued by saying, this property became available and was brought into executive session so that no misinformation was let out, no plans have been made other than getting an appraisal to determine if the property is even feasible for the City to purchase. A potential use for the property would be for overflow parking to stop the current parking on Bristol Blvd. with a buffer. If the appraisal was feasible, the neighborhood would be included in discussions at that point but the information should not have left executive session. Alderman Gill asked the residents to come up and address the Board with their concerns.


    Jim Magee spoke against any expansion in Fort Bayou and said he had formed a petition. He said there are four reasons stated on the petition. First, is the increased traffic on Bristol Blvd. Second, it is an unsafe reduction in quality of life, it is more than a boat ramp it is actually called The Percy Miller Marine Education Park. Third, it would be a detrimental impact to the natural environment. Finally, there is currently a problem of vandalism and criminal activity that would only increase with expansion. Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to enter the petition into the minutes (Exhibit 4-d).


    Hailey Martin spoke against any expansion in Fort Bayou Estates. She said she was appalled by the thought of this property being considered and feels this is an infringement on their fair use and enjoyment right of their private property. She said any expansion would be a detriment to families in the neighborhood. She added that ten years previously a generous family bought all the marshland to keep it out of City hands and to prevent a fishing pier from being added to Fort Bayou Estates.


    Dennis Warren said that his property would be affected the most. He has heard all types of rumors of how the property would be utilized. He wants to hear every option before giving an opinion for or against expansion. He does want to protect his property and the integrity of the neighborhood. He asked if a committee could be formed to analyze the different options for the property.


    Alderman Blackman said that if the appraisal is feasible for the City to purchase then we would enter the planning phase which will include community input. The Mayor said that when he spoke to the people who called him about the issue and explained the actualities and facts, the callers said they regretted signing the petition or that they still have questions before forming an opinion. The Mayor apologized to all for the misunderstanding that there would not be any community input.


    Kay Seymour Brunning said she sent a letter to the Mayor and the Board on August 9, 2019, opposed to any expansion in Fort Bayou Estates. She recommended that if the property was purchased, it should be used as a storm water buffer for the neighborhood. She later added that the Board members need to see the area after a bad rain.


    Alderman Gill said that the residents do not want any expansion in Fort Bayou Estates. Motion was made by Alderman Gill and seconded by Alderman Papania to stop any further action toward the purchase of the discussed property in Fort Bayou Estates. The motion carried with Aldermen Gill, Bellman, Papania and Impey voting aye and Aldermen Authement, Cox and Blackman voting nay.


    Alderman Impey said that they all support their wards, but it is necessary when Aldermen talk to their people to give them the facts.


    Alderman Authement stated that building along the Gulf Coast is booming and especially on waterfront lots. He said his reason for considering buying the property, is because if a house is built there he feels it will be a problem for the police department. He also said he does not expect that property to be vacant forever and will have to be built 8’-10’ above the ground.


    Joan Harrell said she is opposed to expanding the boat ramp. She said they already put up with terrible things happening there, like empty syringes. She said she would never take a little child there because the City can’t afford to put lights up and stop some of this illegal activity. 


    Scott Thiele said that Kay Brunning was correct in saying that after a hard rain the area floods. He does not want the current buffer zone clear cut. He also asked about where the funds would be received from to buy the property? The Mayor responded that it would be from Tideland Funds. Scott said it should be used on sewer and storm drains rather than the property.


    Hailey Martin spoke again and said that the Gulf Coast Research Lab has multiple boat launches and is begging for funds. She feels it would be better to move the project there rather than their neighborhood. She then complained about the homeless population at the boat launch and the woods. She said that in the last two weeks two homeless persons were picked up from her family property going from the boat launch to Twelve Oaks through the woods. The Mayor said that some would argue that removing the wooded area would deter the homeless in the area.


    The Mayor said a resident has concern of the intersection of Nottingham Road and Diller Road and would like a three way stop added. He asked the other residents their input but no one responded. Alderman Gill said that he has already spoken to the Police Chief about the placement of a three way stop there.





    The Mayor began the discussion on a possible lease increase for 1491 Deana Road since there has been no increase since 2013. The Interim Fire Chief said Acadian Ambulance is leasing the property but doesn’t use for much more than storage currently. Alderman Blackman asked if they are not using the property, would the City be able to use the building and land as a fire training facility. The Interim Fire Chief said that 2 acres of land would be needed for the training facility and that parcel would not be useful unless part of the football field at Gay Lemon was used. The Parks & Recreation Director said that initially after the Acadian Ambulance lease was up the property would be utilized as a dance studio. Alderman Cox said as long as it is used and bringing in some revenue, even if lower than market value he would rather see it occupied. He would like to see a renegotiation of the lease but keep Acadian Ambulance as tenants. Alderman Blackman requested to research the market value of the property.


    Melanie Allen from HOSA, Historic Ocean Springs Association, introduced the other officers and discussed plans for the upcoming year so that they can be included in the budget. She said HOSA has four main priorities and the growth of the area has required them to come before the Board for action. First, increased protection and care for the Ocean Springs tree canopy. They are requesting appropriation of funds for trimming and care on a systematic basis for the tree canopy on Washington Ave. Second, is to consider supporting the planning of Porter Avenue using a citizen and stakeholder plan. There is an initial price tag of $12,000.00 and they have fundraised approximately $3,000.00 so far and would like a public contribution for the Porter Avenue plan. Third, to continue the partnership in the care and revitalization of Marshall Park. Forth, for the City to continue to support and encourage the vibrant creative economic health of our economy. She ended with a list of the $700,000 worth of projects that HOSA has provided the City of Ocean Springs over the last 30 years. The Planning & Grants Administrator said the City has been working on development of Porter Avenue Project.


    Alderman Authement said with hurricane season heating up, a decision needs to be made regarding the selection of a debris monitoring company. He explained no cost would be incurred unless there was a storm event and then most of the cost would be reimbursable. Motion was made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to award debris monitoring contract to Debris Tech.


    The City Attorney said he drafted an ordinance to adjust school zones by resolution rather than having to amend the ordinance each time. Motion was made by Alderman Blackman and seconded by Alderman Gill to adopt an ordinance; an amendment to the Code of Ordinances for the City of Ocean Springs, MS regarding establishment of school speed zones, finding this is an immediate public and safety need to go into effect immediately (Exhibit 5-b). The motion carried with a roll call vote as follows:       


                                 Alderman Gill                     Aye

                                 Alderman Authement          Aye

                                 Alderman Bellman              Aye                       

                                 Alderman Cox                    Aye

                                 Alderman Papania              Aye

    Alderman Blackman            Aye

                                 Alderman Impey                Aye


    Alderman Blackman requested the footage from Public Works, from halfway between Still Water Subdivision and Cabildo Place on Hanshaw Road. Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to adopt a resolution of the City of Ocean Springs, MS to extend the school speed zone near Ocean Springs Middle School (Exhibit 5-c)





    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda with the exception of item 6-r which was removed by Alderman Bellman.


    Alderman Bellman asked the Planning & Grants Administrator to clarify the contract agreement with James Foster for Resident Project Representative. She explained that the KCDBG project requires oversite that is not currently included in our engineering contract. She said that there is a need for a part time Project Representative for the project and Mr. Foster is familiar with project and what is needed. The projects total more than $2,000,000 and require a great deal of paperwork. Alderman Papania asked if she consulted Overstreet Engineering or BMA Engineering to get their services rather than going outside of the City Engineers. She responded that it is not an engineering position and does not necessarily require an engineer but is an administrator for oversite or a project manager but not engineering work. Alderman Papania requested that because Mr. Foster is working with Overstreet Engineering, she discuss utilizing his services through them. Aldermen Papania, Bellman and Gill agreed was that the item should not have been included in consent agenda but up for discussion. 







    Motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve the Docket of Claims, the Board finds that all expenses are lawful and appropriate (Exhibit 7-a).





    James Lewis said it is upsetting that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial near the walking track only has two port-o-lets but the Dog Park will have two bathrooms and pavilions. As a 30 year veteran and Vietnam veteran, it is upsetting that the War Memorial does not have a bathroom but so much money has been put toward the Dog Park. He also asked who will take care of the geese and other animal feces.


    James Warren, 1116 Thompson Bayou Drive, said he appreciates the Board beginning the meeting with the pledge and a prayer. He said he noticed at his home the grass had been killed between the sidewalk and the curb. He then noticed it happened throughout his neighborhood and another neighborhood near Waters Edge. He was told the City had drove by and sprayed herbicide. He found out Trailblazer Maxx was used, which is basically Round Up, was used in a residential area. He said the City did the damage and wants it repaired. The Public Works Director explained that one of his employees over sprayed the area, they have been reprimanded and it will not happen again. Mr. Warren said he would like his area replaced and used as a training session for the men that created the issue to see what could happen. The Mayor said he would get with the Public Works Director to work out a plan and call Mr. Warren.


    Kim Lee said she works and worships at MLK Park and was told the basketball court will get a sunshade at a July 10, 2019 community meeting by the Mayor and Parks & Recreation Director. She said the cost was approximately $90,000. She said she feels as if MLK Park is not treated as well as other parks in the City. She said that MLK Park is the only park in the City with only one restroom and there are no mirrors in the restroom. They would like some other basic items addressed before a sunshade. Including, two restrooms, or at least up upkeep of the current restroom, sanitary water fountains, replacement of the rusted grill, the pavilion is rotting, there are no lines on the basketball court now, and there is mildew all over the park.


    Greg Gipson said he would like to see the basic needs and wants addressed before a shade structure is erected. He reiterated Kim Lee’s list of issues and basic necessities that are needed for use of the funds. He would like the mold sprayed off the bathroom and a sign for the times the restroom would be opened and closed. They are requesting the reallocation of funds for the shade structure to be used for resurfacing of the basketball court, the restrooms, the pavilion, lighting and the grill. They understand that their wish list may not be completly fulfilled but they would like some of the items taken care of first.


    The Parks & Recreation Director addressed some of their concerns. She agreed that there should be a men’s and women’s restroom at the park and she has been working on a plan to get an additional bathroom. She said that her department is under staffed and that would be the reason for the mold and mildew buildup. She said vandalism and theft is a problem at MLK Park. She explained the other parks in the City have outside groups that fundraise and invest in upgrades in the other community parks. She said that since she has been the director upgrades have been made to MLK as well as other parks. She added that she has not received any community input on the needs of the park until now. She also said that not all parks in the City have restrooms. The City Clerk explained that moving forward the budget will show funds for each park.  Alderman Gill asked The Parks & Recreation to bring any additional fund needs for MLK Park, the Board would ensure that all could be completed. Alderman Authement added that he had an opportunity to view the restrooms and tour MLK Park; and he feels they should reallocate the funds from the shade structure to completing the list of needed items for MLK Park.




    Alderman Gill said there is a street light at Diller Road and Queen Elizabeth Drive that is not working but he is unsure if it is SREPA or Mississippi Power. Alderman Blackman responded that if it is a SREPA pole then it will be labeled with "OS” plus a number.


    Alderman Authement asked the Mayor, Deputy Building Official and the City Attorney to have a meeting at the beginning of the week regarding Rue Rivage. He also asked about tree removal applications and Tree Protection Committee bylaws and rules. The Deputy Building Official said they are working with the Planning & Grants Administrator to establish guidelines and procedures and have a training session with the Tree Protection Committee.


    Alderman Bellman asked the Parks & Recreation Director about their excavator, who can drive it, and what is it used for. She responded they do have one, they have several operators and it is used for a variety of projects. He then asked if it is not being used, can Public Works use it? She responded that if the excavator is not being used then of course Public Works could use it.


    Alderman Cox asked the Parks & Recreation Director about the stretching equipment at Freedom Field getting standing water during a rain. She said yes, it is being addressed in the upcoming year’s budget. He then requested the Public Works Director to repair the lights at the American Legion Post, as both are out. He then suggested that the cross walk at the Fort Maurepas be moved to another location, since the slime builds up there. The Mayor said he would look at it this week to see where it could be moved or what they could do to correct the problem there.


    Alderman Papania thanked the Parks & Recreation Director for the sign at the Inner Harbor Park. He also thanked the Fire Department for taking the initiative for making some vehicle repairs on their own and saving the City some funds. He thanked the Deputy Building Official for taking care of a situation on Hunter Drive. He then asked the Public Works Director to add a 3-D crosswalk at the YMCA on Government Street.


    Alderman Impey said Ward 6 has two parks that do not have restrooms or water fountains but he thanked the Parks & Recreation Director for the work that has been done.





    Motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to go into closed session to determine the necessity of going into executive session.


    The Deputy City Clerk returned to the meeting and announced a motion was made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to remain in executive session to discuss personnel in the Supervision & Finance Department.


    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Papania and unanimously carried to come out of executive session.


    The City Clerk reminded the Board that if the possible increase in the millage is not ran in the newspaper, they will not be able to increase the millage if needed. The Mayor recommended that the advertisement be ran and they will then determine if an increase is needed. The City Attorney said it must read "notice of tax increase and public hearing on proposed budget and proposed tax levy for the City of Ocean Springs”.


    Motion was made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Blackman and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting until 6:00 p.m. on September 3, 2019. 


    Meeting ended at 9:34 p.m.



    _/s/Patty Gaston_____________            __/s/Shea Dobson__________

    City Clerk                                            Mayor


    _09/17/2019________________            _09/17/2019________________

    Date                                                   Date