The Waveland Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Tuesday heard from several residents about Beach Walk Development, LLC's application for to "pursue development of subdivision with 19 lots for residential development" at 421 N. Beach Blvd.
The second application is requesting a "review and recommendation of a preliminary plat that would divide the property into a subdivision with 19 lots for residential development."
At the recent hearing and meeting hosted by Waveland's Planning and Zoning Commission, the commission voted three-to-one to recommend approval of both applications. Commissioners Mike Adams, Judy Boudoin, and Charlotte Watson voted in favor. Commissioner Clarence Harris voted ''no.''
Attorney Gary Yarborough said that there is an appeal by attorney Virgil Gillespie who represents Ted and Amy Longo in opposition to the application.
Attorney Matthew McDade with Balch and Bingham spoke on behalf of Beach Walk Development, LLC.
Ed Wikoff is the architect, Jason Chiniche is the engineer and Regan Kane with John McDonald Realty were all involved with this project, McDade said.
"What we're asking for is a conditional use approval and a preliminary plat approval for a planned residential development," McDade said. "That is not the same as a subdivision."
McDade said that a planned residential development allows the P&Z Commission, as well as the board to look at an overall project to see if it "benefits the city" and "conforms to the neighborhood."
McDade spoke about some of the concerns raised during the P&Z's public hearing held on Aug. 19.
He said that the traffic will "not be substantially increased," and that the traffic counts on North Beach in front of the property are about "500 cars less than they were pre-Katrina."
McDade said it will "not increase fire hazards," and said developers worked with the Waveland Fire Department and incorporated changes so emergency responders would have access to the property.
McDade said that the "residential development adds to the character of the neighborhood."
The lot sizes to the house sizes will be about 1,800 to 2,200 square feet, McDade said, and the homes will be worth somewhere in the range of $400,000 to $500,000.
He said the project, upon completion, will add about "$125,000 annually to the ad valorem tax base for this six-acre parcel."
McDade addressed the drainage concerns. This project has a 4x12 box culvert that sits underneath North Beach Boulevard and has the "capacity of 540 cubic feet of water per second," he said, and "meets the requirements for a 100-year storm."
The average size of the 19 lots is about 9,900 square feet, McDade said. The green space incorporated is "over an acre," he said. With the addition of the green space to each lot, the size comes to about 12,500 square feet.
McDade said there will also be covenants, which will establish the square footage requirement; establish home builders and architects; establish dues for maintenance of green space and other amenities; and other requirements.
McDade said the project will also utilize natural walk ways and bridges.
Alderman Bobby Richardson asked if the developer could go with 16 homes instead of 19.
McDade said that several options were reviewed, and arriving at 19, was a product of "working 18 months through that."
"When you start taking away lots, one of the things you start taking away from is the ability to provide the amenities that go with the project as a whole," he said.
Alderman Jeremy Burke said that one of his concerns is that this project would "end up being a vacation rental haven."
McDade said that vacation rentals would comply with the City of Waveland's ordinance.
At this time, the city does not have an ordinance in place for vacation rentals, Yarborough said.
McDade also said that Wikoff would present examples of sample homes to lot owners after purchase of a lot.
Burke said that he's also been hearing that by "foregoing our 12,000 square foot lot size, the word is that this is going to set a precedent for the next five acre piece of parcel."
Burke said that making Grosvenor, which is currently a dead end, a through street is "concerning."
Wikoff said the access to Grosvenor is a "controlled access."
"We know that there would be a gate there and access through that gate is limited by code," he said. "The idea of having two entrances and exits into the property is to eliminate congestion at one end or the other if there were only one entry and exit."
McDade said that one of the modifications proposed by the fire department was to widen the Grosvenor side entrance to ensure the fire department had "full access" to the property.
Yarborough told the board that it could also put conditions on the approval, such as requiring the Grosvenor entrance to only be used in emergency situations.
Ted Longo, who owns property on Nicholson Avenue which extends to Grosvenor Place, said he was speaking on behalf of a group of concerned citizens who met the prior week.
"No one has a problem with them developing the property," Longo said. "They own it, they have a right to do that."
Longo said he hired Gillespie to review the submitted plat, prior to the P&Z meeting. He said when he got to the meeting, "there was a new plat," and he added that no was given access to the new plat.
"So now I'm going to have to spend money to find out if it's legal," Longo said.
Longo said the plans are "wonderful" and the developer's pictures are "beautiful."
"I don't want to insult anyone of these people behind me, because I think if they do it, they'll it beautifully," Longo said. "We just want them to do it right."
Longo referenced the price McDade said that some of the homes would be worth.
"During his presentation, Regan (Kane) said the average new home in Waveland has sold for $336,000," Longo said. "That's impressive. Does anybody believe that those houses on those lots are going to sell for $400,000 to $500,000 to $600,000?"
With regards to covenants Longo said that there needed to be something more concrete in place before the applications are approved.
"What we want is to maintain the rules and regulations," Longo said. "What we want is to maintain the character of our neighborhood, this isn't the character of our neighborhood. Not 19 houses on a five-acre property."
Longo said that Waveland is coming back "beautifully."
"Not necessarily quickly, but do we want quick over better?" Longo said. "Would you build a $750,000, million dollar home on the beach if you knew that somebody could cut up the lots behind you and you could have 19 neighbors?"
Longo said that the drawings aren't just "lines on a piece of paper."
"Not to us, to us, it's more than lines on a piece of paper," Longo said. "It represents the possibility of devaluing our homes, devaluing our property, but more importantly negatively affecting the way of life we've all come to love in this town. So what we're asking you to do tonight is to turn it down in its current form, not forever. Again, nobody is against somebody doing something on this property. We're just asking you to turn it down in it's current form for the people that have already invested their dollars in their homes and properties, for those that are wanting to do it according to our rules and regulations, and not have precedents like this one they may be facing, but mostly for the city of Waveland."
Gillespie said that there are "serious legal problems with the proceedings."
"In my opinion, the ordinances when it comes to these types of situations and these type of applications don't provide adequate due process of law," Gillespie said.
He said that the ordinance provides 15 days notice to adjoining property owners only, which he said "does not comply with state law."
He said the adjoining property owners were given a plat and that "plat changed drastically at the meeting."
Gillespie said that his client, Longo, did not receive notice and heard about the matter from his neighbors.
"We're going to ask you to turn this down," he said. "It's going to need to be turned down because of the legal issues that are involved here. Unfortunately, some of these legal issues could impact other projects that occur in Waveland."
Gillespie said that he didn't present expert testimony at the P&Z hearing because he "didn't have time."
"All you got to do is call a subdivision a planned residential development," Gillespie said. "There's no difference in this and any other subdivision, other than them tacking this name. So yes, it is going to set a precedent."
Yarborough said that Gillespie submitted an appeal to the P&Z Commission, which is a recommending body, so his appeal is acknowledged.
The board also heard from several neighboring residents who expressed concerns about drainage, and the possibility of these homes becoming vacation rentals.
Bill Ivey, who lives on Grosvenor, said his property is the "most affected."
"You have a road coming from Grosvenor behind me and all the property beside me," he said. "How far is it going to be off the side of my property?"
Ivey said his in-laws also live next to him.
"Where in Waveland do you put two houses in front of my house on beachfront property," Ivey said. "What's that going to do to my property?"
Ivey said that this project is "not beneficial to the neighborhood."
"The last time we met with the P&Z committee, the lady that sat right over here and said, 'you know these people over here, they're all paid, oh they presented a great argument over here.' Yeah they did. We're the taxpayers up here. We didn't come in here to prepared to fight legally and hire people to do that on a couple days notice."
Amy Ivey asked, "How many feet is it that runs along the side of my property line in the street that are going to go right there."
Burke told her that, according to the plans, that it looks like about five feet.
McDade addressed the changes to plat that was presented at the P&Z hearing. He said the changes reflected the requests made by the fire department to accommodate emergency personnel.
Prior to a vote, Yarborough told the board that it needed to consider the following purposes:
• That it won't substantially increase traffic hazards or congestion.
• Won't potentially increase fire hazards.
• Won't adversely affect the character of the neighborhood.
• Won't adversely affect the general welfare of the city.
• Won't overtax public utilities or community facilities.
• Or otherwise be in conflict with the city's comprehensive plan.
Burke said that he thinks "every property owner realizes that there's going to be development of some sort" and that a "12,000 square foot lot is what's standard in Waveland."
"That's preferably what I would like to see," he said.
He added that the private road access off Grosvenor is not needed.
"A development's going to go here one way or the other," he said. "There's no question of that. The density of it right now, it's kind of hard to say, this is not standard in Waveland. And the question is do you want to make it a standard thing?"
The board approved a motion, three to one, to approve both applications with the condition that the Grosvenor entrance be used for emergency use only. Aldermen Shane LaFontaine, Richardson, and Charles Piazza voted in favor. Burke voted "no."
The next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 18 at 6:30 p.m.