City of Ocean Springs

    Minutes - February 20, 2018 - 6:00 p.m. Recess Meeting

    RECESS MEETING OF FEBRUARY 20, 2018         

    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 February 20, 2018.  Mayor Dobson presiding, Aldermen Cox, Gill, Authement, Bellman, Papania, Blackman, and Impey were present.  Also present was City Clerk Shelly Ferguson and City Attorney Kevin Melchi. 

    The Mayor called the meeting to order.

    Alderman Ken Papania gave the invocation and the Mayor led the Pledge of Allegiance.


    The Mayor read a Proclamation declaring February 28, 2018 as Rare Disease Day in the City of Ocean Springs and reminded everyone that there is a Zebra Run to benefit the United MDS Foundation on Saturday, February 24, 2018. (Exhibit 3-a)

    The Mayor read a proclamation declaring the week of February 24 – March 3, 2018 as Montessori Education Week in the City of Ocean Springs and presented it to representatives from the Treehouse Montessori Christian School and Children’s House Montessori. (Exhibit 3-b)


    Mr. Robert Kiesau, 4309 Yosemite Drive, came before the Board to discuss the damaged property at his home.  Mr. Kiesau said the Vicksburg Drain project was designed to help owner’s yards and improve the safety for children.  He stated he has lost every tree on the east side of his property.  He said his house is tilting and his tile is cracking.  Mr. Kiesau asked each Alderman to come out to his property to see what has been done to his property.  He also said there are several trees that are about to fall over on people’s houses and over the ditch into people’s yards. 

    The Mayor asked the Public Works Director for an update on the current status of this property.  The Public Works Director said they found two (2) areas with erosion that did erode a portion of the ditch so they placed 40-50 boulders to get it back to where it needs to be.  He said there were rocks in the ditch that they got out and put back on the banks. The Public Works Director said if there is any erosion on Mr. Kiesau’s property it is very minimal.

    The Mayor asked James Foster from Compton Engineering Inc. to give a breakdown of the project, when the project was initiated, and the scope of the project.  Mr. Foster said the project was initiated in August of 2014.  Mr. Foster said the reason the City started looking at this project is because the ditch was in bad shape and had so much erosion that the sides were almost vertical and a child fell in the ditch and couldn’t get out. The City asked for a PHWD grant, it was accepted, and in the fall of 2016 the project was started.     

    Alderman Cox said he will contact Mr. Kiesau on Monday and go out to his property to talk about the issues Mr. Kiesau has.

    Alderman Impey commented that all of the trees were in a utility easement.


    Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to add the addendum to the agenda.


    The Mayor stated he has received a letter from the county stating they are having traffic issues with people speeding in the area of Harbor Road and LaFontaine and the County is asking the City to address it.  The Mayor asked the Police Chief if they have done a traffic study in this area.  The Police Chief said they looked at it and stated there are two (2) options; (1) to place rumble strips or (2) to use some kind of traffic abatement.

    Alderman Authement doesn’t feel rumble strips will work for this location.  Alderman Authement believes striping the road and placing reflectors in the middle and sides of the road would be the best option.

    Alderman Authement asked the Public Works Director to get pricing for the reflectors and he will contact Supervisor Troy Ross to get a price for the striping.   


    Alderman Blackman pulled Items (6-q) and (6-r), and Alderman Authement pulled Item (6-j) from the Consent Agenda. 

    Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to approve the Consent Agenda with the exceptions of Items (6-q), (6-r) pulled by Alderman Blackman and (6-j) was pulled by Alderman Authement to discuss in executive session.

    Motion made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to table Item (6-q) until the Board could have further discussion about it.

    Alderman Blackman pulled Item (6-r) to have some discussion about the fees for services to renovate the softball concession facility at the Highway 57 Sports Complex.  The project is to expand the bottom floor and elevate it.  Alderman Blackman said he was concerned about the $29,308.00 fee for the design.    

    Mr. Reed from Compton Engineering stated the price is based off of the Bureau of Buildings C+C so it is common for this size.  Mr. Reed said the projected cost estimate for the project is around $300,000.00.  Mr. Reed stated the scope of the project is small square footage, extensive renovations to the restrooms on the bottom floor, and adding some fixtures. Also included in the base bid price is to remove the overhead structure that is to be packaged up and stored somewhere within the park.  He also said they did provide an add alternate to relocate that to the north.

    The Director of Parks and Recreation said she does have a sketch and Compton Engineering will have a power point presentation tomorrow night at their Parks Advisory Board meeting.

    Alderman Cox would like to see the presentation to see what is being proposed.

    Motion made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Gill and unanimously carried to table this item until the plans can be reviewed. (Exhibit 6-r)


    Alderman Blackman pulled several items from the docket of claims for discussion and clarification of the invoices.

    Motion made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to approve the docket of claims including all items pulled for discussion and clarification. (Exhibit 7-a)

    The City Clerk discussed why the items requesting to waive any rental fees were on the agenda.  She stated the requests for a non-profit organization to get rental fees waived at their request has to be approved by the Board.  She stated the previous Board had made a motion that all requests be stopped at the City Clerk’s office for determination.   

    Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to waive the rental fee of the Ocean Springs Community Center on May 12, 2018 for the Bethesda Free Clinic, a non-profit organization, to host a fundraising event, Murals and Mystery Dinner Theater "Blame it on the Boogie.” (Exhibit 7-b)

    Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to waive the rental fee of the Ocean Springs Civic Center on April 7, 2018 for The Lift as we Climb Coalition, a non-profit organization, to host an Inaugural Autism Community Outreach Program. (Exhibit 7-c)

    The request to have the rental fee waived for the use of the Ocean Springs Civic Center on May 5, 2018 for The Ocean Springs Sports Hall of Fame to host an Inaugural Induction Ceremony to recognize athletes and coaches was tabled until their non-profit status is verified. (Exhibit 7-d)

    The Deputy Fire Chief spoke about businesses and homes not having their address posted on their buildings or homes in a contrasting color as required by the building code.  The Deputy Fire Chief is requesting the press to run an article in the paper to ask all business owners and residents to make sure their addresses are posted on their house or business to help the response time on all emergency calls. (Exhibit 7-e)

    The Planning & Grants Administrator gave an overview of the amendment to the ordinance for short-term rentals.  The Planning & Grants Administrator said it is a product of reviewing how the process went throughout the year and cleaning up some of the confusing verbiage.  She also said the primary changes are changing reference to the Planning Department rather than the Building Department, changing from certified to standard mail, eliminating the requirement of putting the application into the public hearing notice, and clarification on the physical requirements for inspections.

    Motion made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Authement to Adopt an Amendment to the Ordinance Amending Ordinance No. 2015-11; Article IV of Appendix D; and Article V, Section 510 of the Ocean Springs Code of Ordinances, Zoning. And Subdivisions to Amend Rules and Regulations for Short-Term Rentals.  Motion passes. (Exhibit 7-f)


                       Alderman Gill                             Aye

                       Alderman Authement                  Aye

                       Alderman Bellman                       Aye

                       Alderman Cox                            Aye

                       Alderman Papania                       Aye

                       Alderman Blackman                    Aye

                       Alderman Impey                         Aye

    The Planning and Grants Administrator explained the change to this ordinance is to take the R-3 Zoning District for two-family and provide a subcategory of R-3 that does not allow for duplexes.  She also explained that the subcategory R-3A follows all the same rules and regulations but allows for single-family structures only.

    Motion made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Impey to Adopt an Ordinance Amending the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance of the City of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Being Ordinance No. 13-1976, As Amended, By Providing for the Creation of the R-3A Single Family Residential Zoning District.  Motion passes. (Exhibit A-1a)


                       Alderman Gill                             Aye

                       Alderman Authement                   Aye

                       Alderman Bellman                       Aye

                       Alderman Cox                            Aye

                       Alderman Papania                       Aye

                       Alderman Blackman                    Aye

                       Alderman Impey                         Aye


    The Building Official discussed some complaints he has received regarding some trees in the cemetery that are damaging the improvements owners have made to their plots.  The Building Official stated the cemetery plots should be treated just like a structure by stating if the tree is causing damage to the property the owner of the property has the right to remove the tree.  The Building Official is asking the Board to follow the same rules for the cemetery by stating if a tree is causing physical damage to the gravesite then the issue goes before the tree committee but to also require the owner of the plot to replace the tree or donate a tree to the City.

    Alderman Gill would like to review before cutting down the tree.

    Alderman Blackman asked the Building Official to talk to an arborist and get a report on the trees in the cemetery and present to the Board.


    A citizen spoke about the issues at Freedom Field.  She stated she walks the track at Freedom Field and said part of the walking track is under water and most of the track does not have any mulch on it.  She feels it is a hazard.

    The Director of Parks and Recreation talked about some improvements they are making to Freedom Field by updating the lighting and placing rubberized surfacing on the track.

    Leonard Blackwell, Brunini Law Firm, represents some residents in the area where The Sands at Front Beach is being developed.  Mr. Blackwell is asking the Board to table this until they can meet with the City Planning Officials and the developer.  Mr. Blackwell said if the Board approves this plat in its current condition of having to resort to some other means to get their redress, they do not want to do that.  Mr. Blackwell also said he feels the easiest and most inexpensive way to get this resolved, on what looks like a good project, is to let them have the opportunity to meet.

    David Krause, Law Dog, stated the preliminary plat was approved by this Board and asked where Mr. Blackwell was during that time.  Mr. Krause stated he worked extensively with the City Attorney, Planning Department, Inspections, Fire, Utilities, and Engineering to comply with the City requirements to build a beautiful neighborhood in the City.  Mr. Krause said all investors are local and are interested in making the City better and helping it progress.  He said this project will link Front Beach with Porter Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Government Street.  Mr. Krause asked the Board to take the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission in consideration when they go into Executive Session.

    Dr. Bill Moore, Ward 2, has a pet project about the Holcomb Boulevard area.  Dr. Moore said the PHWD project on Yosemite might be a cautionary tale of what he does not want to see on Holcomb Boulevard.  He does not want any more trees cut or frogs and turtles dying.  He is willing to dig, plant trees, and plant plants.  He is here whenever the City is ready to do something with a neighborhood that is very interested.

    Mike Illanne, 303 Front Beach Drive, urges the Board to consider giving Mr. Blackwell time to consider this project.  He reviewed the Preliminary Plat back in 2016 and offered a number of comments at that time, with the exception of moving the garbage collection point from behind one of the existing residents in the area, and none of those comments were addressed.  Mr. Illanne stated he only received notice two (2) days before the scheduled Planning Committee consideration of the final plot plan.  He raised concerns on density, impact on the surrounding infrastructure, location of the entrances and the impact on the residents in that area.  He also asked the Board to take a look at Wulff Drive.  Mr. Illanne said they need time for this development to be addressed because it is going to be with us for a long time.

    Lee Brumfield, property owner, used to have one hundred and twelve (112) 2nd and 3rdgeneration apartments that were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.  Mr. Brumfield said after extensive research and speaking with architects and visiting various other subdivisions they decided to cut the density down from one hundred and twelve (112) units to forty one (41) units.  He said they had input from some of the neighbors and the planning department.  He said four (4) houses have already sold at an average cost of $600,000.00 or more adding significantly to the tax base in Ocean Springs.  He finds it appalling that people would hire an attorney the day before getting the final plat and asking the Board to take their advice when they have had a year to come before the Board to make any comments or ask any questions they may have had.

    John Godsey, 502 Martin Avenue, talked about the property being developed.  Mr. Godsey said at the time the apartments were built there wasn’t a zoning ordinance.  He said when the City decided to go with comprehensive zoning it was zoned as R-1A.  Mr. Godsey said if Mr. Brumfield were to build 8-10 private home lots there they would be a lot happier with a lot less potential traffic. 

    Mike Butler, builder on the project, said this project was designed to fit within the community for single-family residents.  Mr. Butler said it was never intended to go to short-term rentals.  He said the only reason it went to short-term rentals was due to feedback from potential clients.  Mr. Butler is fully aware the surrounding neighbors do not want short-term rentals and said they are fully willing to take that off the table and leave it as a single-family development.  He also said this project was designed by high end architects.  The four (4) homes that are sold average $850,000.00 and not $600,000.00 as stated by Mr. Brumfield.  Mr. Butler has been a custom home builder for ten (10) years and would never have been a part of this project if it had been what they are describing.  He said this is going to be a beautiful, bikeable, walkable community.

    Ms. Shanteau has lived on Wulff Drive for 54 years.  Ms. Shanteau said if they agree to build forty one (41) beautiful homes in the neighborhood across the street she is fine with that but she has an extremely strong opinion about putting short-term rentals in this area.  If this is taken off the table they would all feel a lot more comfortable about the project.

    James Skinner, Board Member of the MS Rising Coalition, spoke against the state flag.

    Joanna Worch stated her 84 year old mother lives in the area of The Sands at Front Beach Project.  Ms. Worch said as a local realtor she was excited to learn about the forty one (41) units in this area and has some clients who are very interested and asked her to speak to the developer about purchasing some units until they discovered they were going to be short-term rentals.  Ms. Worch said people who want to live there every day do not want to live next to strangers coming and going on a regular basis.  She said the City needs to stay with the cap on short-term rentals that the City has set.

    Matt McDonnell, Ward 2, asked where these residents were when the short-term rentals were first voted on.  Mr. McDonnell stated he and a couple of other Aldermen were outvoted on this issue because no one spoke up when they needed to.  Matt McDonnell publically thanked John Gill, the Mayor, former Alderman Chic Cody and Alderman Authement for helping him when his family was hurting and in need.

    James Lewis, 805 Canebrake Drive, came before the Board to talk about the golf carts on the streets of Ocean Springs and stated he was almost hit by one going down Bechtel Boulevard at night.  Mr. Lewis asked if they have gone back and approved golf carts being on the streets.  Mr. Lewis also wanted to notify the Board that the entrance to Canebrake Drive is developing potholes and needs to be addressed.  Mr. Lewis stated he spoke to the Board before about two (2) signs that talk about road work, one in the Canebrake Subdivision that is very low and if you try to walk under it you will hit your head so you have to walk out in the street to go around it.  Mr. Lewis is respectfully asking for someone to contact the contractor to have it removed.

    Alderman Blackman stated the sidewalk project has not been completed but he will contact the contractor or engineering firm and get the sign issue taken care of.

    Mr. Scott Edwards, 409 Wulff Drive, is concerned about the entrance on Wulff Drive.  Mr. Edwards stated in the egress to Wulff Drive is on Mr. Brumfield’s property but it also joins three (3) of the current driveways.  Mr. Edwards commented that Wulff Drive is a dead end street with three (3) driveways with residents that live at the end of the dead end street.  He said originally there was no access going to be on Wulff Drive then the City decided it was going to be necessary to have an entrance on Wulff Drive, then it became gated, then it became ungated, and then it moved from the north to the south. His concern is the safety issue he believes this will cause because of the residents in the area trying to back out of their driveway with the coming and going of traffic going thru there.  He would appreciate allowing them to look at that before making a decision on this issue tonight.  He also said it is unfortunate that they had to bring in legal counsel tonight but they feel that their needs are not being heard by anyone.

    Ms. Shanteau commented again that at one time she had an emergency call and the ambulance could not even get up the street and if they are trying to get to that entrance there is a danger to the people living at The Sands.  The big fire truck does not have access or egress even to Wulff Drive.  She just wants to make it clear that this could be a problem to the residents they will welcome into their neighborhood. 

    Alderman Blackman stated several streets need to be looked at for alternative vehicles that need to get in and out for rescue calls.  The ladder truck is not made for that.  Alderman Blackman said the City needs to figure out a way to get in and out of these small, alley size streets that we have to get rescue vehicles in and out because they are so narrow.

    A citizen stated his grandparents have been living on Martin Avenue for over sixty (60) years and this citizen sits outside on the front porch talking with his grandmother.  He has heard his grandparents talk about how bad the traffic is on Wulff Drive and he has seen it himself many times.  He mentioned how bad the traffic is on Martin Avenue at 10:00 on a Tuesday morning because of Tatonut.  If this is going to be one of the main entrances to this neighborhood then the issue needs to be looked at now because the traffic is already terrible.

    Audrey Yglesias, 411 Martin Avenue, stated she owns three (3) lots that are surrounded by the new development.  Ms. Yglesias stated the third lot is small because Mr. Brumfield purchased twelve (12) feet of it.  She has the right of entry down that drive.  Ms. Yglesias is not able to talk because she is not feeling well.  She is very happy to hear that short-term rentals are being taken off the table.


    Alderman Gill talked about breaking down the engineering bills so the Board can read them better and would also request the legal department break their invoices down, anything outside of the retainer, better than they currently are so the Board can recognize it by line item.

    Alderman Gill asked James Foster about a presentation the Finance Committee requested at the last Finance Committee regarding running a water line under Fort Bayou.  Alderman Gill said the new Board doesn’t have a total idea about this project.  James Foster said they do have a presentation and will present is at the next Board Meeting.

    Alderman Authement asked the Public Works Director about a letter he received on February 15th regarding the drainage ditch west of Minor Lane that runs from Porter Avenue to Dewey Avenue.  Alderman Authement said he would talk to the Public Works Director about it after the meeting.

    Alderman Impey said the county opted out of the PHWD program.  Alderman Impey said the last time he spoke to Supervisor Troy Ross about it the county was looking into setting up a similar mechanism without having to go through Pat Harrison but they are still waiting on their legal team to complete the separation from Pat Harrison.  He said once that is complete the county will go forward with their own setup with drainage funding.

    Alderman Bellman asked the Building Official how long it takes to tear down a condemned house.  Alderman Bellman said he has one on Linda Circle that has been there for years.  The Building Official said the house on Linda it is uninhabitable.  The Building Official requested the owner go in make repairs and secure everything.  The owner maintains the grass.  The Building Official will have to look into an updated status on this property. 

    Alderman Cox asked the Director of Parks and Recreation and the Building Official about installing a light behind the stairwell at Taconi shining out into the new parking lot the City will be putting in.  Alderman Cox requested to have the City Electrician mount it on the building where American Legion enters the building.

    Alderman Blackman said to utilize the solar lights that were placed on the beach in the meantime.

    Alderman Cox stated Alderman Gill made a motion at the last meeting to dissolve the Finance Committee and the HR Committee but they did not dissolve the HR Committee at that time.  He would like to move forward with dissolving the HR Committee along with the Finance Committee so all the aldermen can be involved. 

    Motion made by Alderman Cox, seconded by Alderman Blackman to dissolve the HR Committee to allow the aldermen to rotate in and out on a rotating basis on the exit interviews.  Motion passes with Aldermen Authement, Bellman, Cox, Papania, Blackman, and Impey voting aye and Alderman Gill voting nay.

    Alderman Cox asked if there is any way to make a turnaround at the end of Wulff Drive before any entrances are made on that road for the new complex.  Alderman Cox said he and the Mayor went and looked at it and stated if they could take some of the space around and asphalt it to make it a little wider so people could possibly turn around instead of pulling into people’s driveways.  The Planning and Grants Administrator said we need to look at where it is paved as opposed to where the actual right-of-way is and place some flags out there and see what lies within the right-of-way to see if some modifications or improvement can be made.  Alderman Cox said it should be on our paving list because it is in bad shape so now would be the time to look into it.

    Alderman Blackman stated some of the Planning Commission minutes talked about the egress on Wulff Drive from the development being only for emergency egress.  The Planning and Grants Administrator said originally it was discussed to be for emergency only but the way it finally landed in preliminary plat is a secondary access would include signage to read "for residents only” and "no thru traffic”.  The Planning and Grants Administrator also stated the primary access would be off Martin Avenue so there would be another way in or out for emergency purposes.  She said the last approval identified it as the secondary access for residents only and to be signed as such.

    Alderman Blackman said State Representative Hank Zuber offered to help get additional Vietnam era artifacts for the Vietnam Memorial.  Alderman Blackman asked the Mayor to get in touch with Mr. Larry Lucas with the Mississippi Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial to help fill out the paperwork and let them pick which piece of memorabilia from the Vietnam War era they would like to see added to this site.

    Alderman Blackman has an invoice from Singing River Electric in the amount of $1,852.00 for lighting upgrade to the Bayou Sauvolle Subdivision. 

    Motion made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to pay the invoice in the amount of $1,852.00 to Singing River Electric for a portion of the lighting upgrades to the Bayou Sauvolle Subdivision in four (4) monthly installments of $463.00 per month.

    Alderman Impey asked the Building Official if the Yellowstone Circle lot clearing is progressing.  The Building Official said the house has been rented and the renter has been making some repairs and cleaning it out. 

    Alderman Impey asked the Public Works Director asked about the maintenance he mentioned regarding the shrubbery and grass next to Mr. Kiesau’s house.  The Public Works Director said they took care of that this morning.  Alderman Impey requested the Vicksburg ditch be placed on a rotating schedule.


    Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Authement and unanimously carried to go into closed session to determine the necessity of remaining in Executive Session.

    The City Clerk returned to the meeting and announced a motion was made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to remain in Executive Session to discuss personnel in the facilities department, JCUA litigation, and potential litigation with The Sands at Front Beach development.

    Motion made by Alderman Impey, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to come out of Executive Session and return to the regular meeting.

    Motion made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to authorize to approve the final plat for The Sands at Front Beach located at 265 Front Beach Drive, PID # 60225100.000 and 60225190.000 as recommended by the Planning Commission. (Exhibit 6-j)

    Motion made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Gill to not accept the resignation of Rebecca "Vicky” Wise.  Motion failed with Aldermen Authement, Bellman, Cox, Papania, and Impey voting nay and Aldermen Blackman and Gill voting aye. (Exhibit 6-q)

    Motion made by Alderman Gill, seconded by Alderman Impey and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting.

    Motion made by Alderman Blackman, seconded by Alderman Cox and unanimously carried to reopen the meeting.

    Motion made by Alderman Bellman, seconded by Alderman Cox to accept the resignation of Rebecca "Vicky” Wise, to pay her wages through February 26th, and her payout and authorize the Parks Department to begin the process of filling the vacant position.  Motion passes with Aldermen Authement, Bellman, Cox, Papania, Blackman, and Impey voting aye and Alderman Gill voting nay. (Exhibit 6-q)

    Motion made by Alderman Authement, seconded by Alderman Bellman and unanimously carried to adjourn the meeting until 6:00 p.m. on March 6, 2018.

    The meeting ended at 10:00 p.m.


    /s/ Shelly Ferguson                                        /s/ Shea Dobson

    City Clerk                                                     Mayor

    3/7/2018                                                      3/7/2018

    Date                                                             Date