Neighbors debate fish market request
By Jennifer Lenain
Mar 8, 2013, 23:23
The Bay St. Louis City Council on Tuesday tabled Leverna Benigno Dedeaux's project application requesting a special exception to conduct a retail seafood market on Depot Row and to permanently place a 40-foot refrigeration container outside of the business.
Dedeaux's request for a special exception to have a processing room at the business was withdrawn before the meeting.
The business, Little Joe's Seafood and More will have fresh and boiled seafood, a meat counter, and will serve the Benigno family's po'boys to-go.
Several community residents and business owners were present for the meeting, prepared to address the council with their arguments for or against the request.
Ward Three Councilman Jeffery Reed suggested the issue be tabled until the next meeting.
"Let's see if we can get some definitions," Reed said, "residents want clarification of what exactly is going to be there."
Business owner Roy Dedeaux said he has opened his site to any one that has questions about what the business will encompass.
"I've already invited everyone to come out and see what we're doing," he said. "Before a decision is made, please get people that are opposed to come take a look."
"I think people did not take note of the terminology and they need to sit down face-to-face and talk about it," Ward Two Councilwoman Wendy McDonald said.
Mayor Les Fillingame's office set up a public meeting and residents, business owners and city officials met on Thursday to discuss the small multi-use retail business in the Depot district and the conditions of the applicant's request.
"Please take personal emotions out of this," Fillingame said. "There will never be a business in there that will affect the quality of life of the surrounding community.
"It's the cleanest I've ever seen it,'" Fillingame said.
Residents opposing the project are not fond of the 40-foot refrigeration unit that is located on the lot abutting the business.
The unit is currently considered portable and Dedeaux is seeking to make it a permanent accessory to the site.
"Accessory structures are allowed by code in all zones," Zoning Administrator Charlene Black said.
"We are willing to work with everyone on this issue, we will cover the unit as required and make it appear nice," Dedeaux said.
The unit will allow for the business to freeze the majority of its waste to prevent smells from permeating the neighborhood, Dedeaux said.
"We are already holding him to a higher standard than other restaurants in Bay St. Louis," Fillingame said.
If the council approves the request at the next meeting, Dedeaux will then have to get approval from the Historical Preservation Commission.
"If we get approved to keep it, we will accept input from residents of what they would like to see done," Dedeaux said.
If Dedeaux is approved to move forward with his business, there is a special condition that will be added to the memorandum with all conditions discussed at the meeting Thursday: All of the special exceptions and conditions are only in good standing with the current business.
"If a new owner takes over the business, the special exceptions and conditions will expire," Fillingame said Friday.
"I hope there is a compromise in the future that everyone can live with," Fillingame said.
Dedeaux will present a revised site plan to officials and the application will go before the council at the next meeting.
In other action:
• The council voted on Tuesday to deny the request for a zoning change that would allow a boardwalk to be built adjacent to the Washington St. Pier.
Before discussing the issue, Councilman-At-Large Bill Taylor, Ward Four Councilman Bobby Compretta and Ward One Councilman Doug Seal recused themselves from the meeting because they are board members of American Legion Post 139, which is requesting the change.
Developer Thomas Genin had plans for the boardwalk to consist of nine businesses. He already had commitments for multiple shops and food bars, he said in January.
The property is currently zoned R-5 residential and the American Legion requested a zoning change to C-2, to allow mixed commercial use.
The motion to deny the request passed by a vote of 4 to 0; Ward Five Councilman Joey Boudin abstained, his vote automatically going with the majority rule.
• Michael Rosato presented to the council a proposal to host a Bay Harbor Festival at the start of the summer in lieu of the Bay BridgeFest, since BridgeFest is being moved to the fall.
Rosato said he wants to create a signature event, "A festival that has vision to be in the harbor and down along the beautiful beach," he said Tuesday.
Rosato envisions a festival like Hangout Fest that is hosted in Orange Beach each summer, he said.
He only asks that the city provide road closure and police protection on the perimeter.
Fillingame said that Rosato is ready to make a legal proposal to the city.
The council met in executive session on the matter, but took no action.
• The Bay St. Louis Harbor and Waterfront Development Advisory Committee is still in the works.
"We have 22 interested parties and interviews will occur next week," Fillingame said. "Hopefully by the end of next week we will be closer to a final number."
The committee will include members who have significant experience in harbor activities or business development, Fillingame said.