This is one of three structures and abandoned vehicles on the property. The board on Tuesday declared it a menace to public health and safety.

The Waveland Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday hosted a public hearing for the blighted property, located at 467 Hwy. 90, site of the former Travel Express Inn.

Waveland building official Josh Hayes told the board that the structure is dilapidated and unsafe. He added that there is also overgrowth and debris on the property.

"The windows are broken, it's got moisture penetration, exterior and interior walls are deteriorated to the point where material is falling away," Hayes said. "Roofing material has fallen away. The structure has failed due to neglect. There are many inoperable and unregistered vehicles on the property, as well."

Hayes said that the property is also prone to vermin and insects.

Darin Vega, a representative of the property owner Legendary Enterprises and Acquisitions, LLC of Alabama, spoke to the board.

Vega showed sketches for a "retro beach hotel." He added that there was also a house on the property he might be able to rent to a family.

He also said that he has been in contact with Diane Bennett, who is involved with the non-profit organization Gulf Coast Christian Women's Jobs Corps.

"It's a Christian organization, which was appealing to me," he said. "What Diane does is, she goes into the prison system and ministers to women on a weekly basis. And what she wanted, because in the state of Mississippi, if anyone is convicted of a felony, when you get out, you can't get a job, you can't get a place to rent. So Diane approached me and said what I'd like to do is get all our church members together and rehab it."

Vega said he and Bennett have talked about the matter for "almost two years."

Vega said he got a written offer from Bennett's attorney for $219,000.

"They have all the people ready to the do the rehab from the church and we were going to take some of the money that she puts down on it, because she's putting $25,000 down, and we were going to donate $10,000 of that to rehab it for the women's job corps. Now, if you guys aren't thrilled with that idea, it being there, then I can let her know and we can still do that rehab for $110,000 and get it open as a little retro beach hotel."

Vega said he's owned the property since 2016.

Alderman Bobby Richardson asked Hayes how the 50 percent rule would affect the property.

According to FEMA, "if the cost of improvements or the cost to repair the damage exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building, it must be brought up to current floodplain management standards."

Hayes said that the appraised value would have to be determined.

Vega said he had someone on the property last week to look at the structures.

"It looks to me that there's a lot of cosmetic work to be done," Vega said. "There may be some structural work to that and I'll have to look at that and see what that entails. The electrical and the plumbing seems to be in good working order."

Vega added that the stairwell needs to be repaired.

Alderman Jeremy Burke said, it sounded to him like it's more than 50 percent.

"And according to the tax assessor, $131,000 is the value for all the buildings combined," Burke said.

The last time a legal permit was used on the building was prior to 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which is when the substantial damage occurred to the property.

Vega said Bennett's proposal is to provide housing to women recently out of prison.

"She's ministering to them at the prison and when they get out, a lot of them, their kids are placed through the court system," Vega said. "In order to get their kids back, they have to have two things; a job and a place to live. So not only would it help 30 to 40 women at a time, a lot of them would be able to get their kids back."

According to Bennett's proposal, which city attorney Gary Yarborough read aloud, Legendary Enterprises plans to sell the property as is, where is and the Gulf Coast Christian Women's Job Corps has until Dec. 1 to complete its due diligence.

Yarborough added that the board can't consider this use here. He added that the proposal is not "for a use by-right under our zoning ordinance."

"The proposal to house as a housing unit would be, under our zoning ordinance in that area, a conditional use," Yarborough said. "So for example, you can use it by right as a hotel/ motel. It's not proper for us to consider a different use for it because that's not before us."

Yarborough said that Bennett would have to apply for a building permit for use and go before the Planning and Zoning Commission for its consideration.

The only question before the board Monday, was whether the property as is, is a menace to public health and safety, Yarborough said.

Vega agreed that the overgrowth needs to be removed, the locks need to be changed, and pest control measures need to be taken.

Yarborough asked Vega if he agreed that "it would be purview of this board to declare it a menace to public health and safety and retain the right to enter that property within a year if either you or fair-value purchaser doesn't correct those issues yourself."

Vega said that sounded more than fair.

"If the licenses don't go through, we're going to go ahead and make it a beach hotel," he said.

Burke said it looks like the structures need to demolished.

"It doesn't fit in with the corridor of Highway 90 that I want to see," he said.

Vega said he can begin rehabilitation efforts on the property in the next 90 days and cleaning can begin immediately.

Yarborough asked Vega to return to the board's next meeting on Oct. 17 with a step-by-step plan of rehabilitation.

In regards to the 50 percent rule, Yarborough said that is done procedurally when an application is submitted and evaluated, but reiterated that that question was not before the board Monday.

The board unanimously approved a motion to declare the property a menace to public health and safety.

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