Without a doubt that is the most wacky Around the GO Zone post ever. We must be on the full moon but here are three stories I couldn’t let pass without mention here on slabbed. First off is Commissioner Chaney speaking in Pascagoula at the Kiwanis club. Cherie Ward at the Mississippi Press has the report:
State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney addressed the Pascagoula Kiwanis Club Tuesday and declared, “Thank God for Allstate.”
“We’re still receiving about 10 calls a day wanting to know who’s going to write policies on the coast,” Chaney told about 30 Kiwanians at LaFont Inn. “Allstate has agreed to come in and write policies. They require that you put your automobile insurance with them, but they’ll cover you. Nationwide came in and is ready to write under their standard procedures. We have all the independent agents in the state that have agreed to pick up any slack that State Farm may have left behind.”
Chaney is referring to State Farm Insurance’s announcement that it will not renew homeowner policies within 1,000 feet of the beach. State Farm homeowner policyholders from 1,000 to 2,500 feet off the beach won’t be able to renew their wind coverage.
“Some of their own agents won’t be eligible for coverage with State Farm because of where they live,” Chaney said.
Next up it’s politics as usual in Gulfport as the City Council played games with Mayor Warr’s nominations to the new Gulfport Development Commission that is charged with redevelopment of the VA property and parts of downtown. Who better to serve than Hancock Bank CEO George Schloegel? Not so fast according to councilman Brian Carrier. Also, further evidence is offered we still like our State Farm agents. Ryan LaFontaine at the Sun Herald has the story:
Mayor Brent Warr said politicians on the City Council are playing games that are jeopardizing Gulfport’s future.
“Absolutely ridiculous” is how Warr described Tuesday’s meeting on appointments to the new Gulfport Development Commission.
Warr submitted four names to serve on the five-member panel, which will solicit proposals from developers to build projects designed architect by Andres Duany.
Instead of voting on the appointees simultaneously, the council voted individually. That decision and others that followed prompted Warr to say the council “had this thing planned all along.”
First was Hancock Bank President George Schloegel, who is familiar with finance, which could come in handy on a commission that will enter into long-term agreements with developers.
Councilman Brian Carriere chose not to vote on Schloegel and other appointees because he had not met with them beforehand. The appointment failed when Ella Holmes-Hines, Barbara Nalley and Neil Resh voted against him in a 3-3 deadlock.
In response to two phone messages and an e-mail Wednesday from the Sun Herald seeking comment on why he did not vote, Carriere sent a six-word e-mail: “I’m at a golf event today.”
Next was Don Mason, who City Hall believes might know how development commissions should operate because he spent more than two decades on one in Harrison County.
Before the vote on Mason, Holmes-Hines walked out. Carriere again chose not to vote. Mason was approved 4-1, with Resh opposing.
Holmes-Hines did not return even after another council member opened the door and shouted the council had finished voting on Mason.
I noted State Farm agent EJ Roberts made the cut:
E.J. Roberts, a State Farm agent since 1984, was next. The thinking is Roberts might know something about insurance, which has become the Coast’s biggest hurdle.
With Holmes-Hines and Carriere still not voting, the remaining council approved Roberts 5-0.
Finally we travel to Hancock County and a JR Welsh Sun Herald report on the stinging setback to those who think swamps and marshlands are a great place to put condos: (I don’t write much on hometown politics but developing the marsh reminds me of how easily the county pols jumped into bed with convicted stock con man Richard Kern back in 2006.)
The Board of Supervisors here is back to square one in its three-year attempt to allow unfettered development in the Bayou Caddy area.
Last week the Mississippi Court of Appeals refused the county’s request to reconsider a ruling the court made in November 2007, when it ruled against a zoning decision supervisors made in May 2005.
The change created a new zoning designation for about 1,000 acres around Bayou Caddy. It changed zoning in the area from mostly single-family residential to a category called C-4, resort commercial.
More alarming to environmentalists and activists, the C-4 zoning allowed construction of condominiums and other buildings of unlimited density and height. Much of the area is environmentally sensitive and was virtually wiped clean by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
A lawsuit against the county followed the zoning change, filed by several people and supported by Coastal Community Watch, a nonprofit group that claims a membership of more than 800.
In a scathing opinion issued Nov. 6, 2007, the Court of Appeals said the county’s justification for making the zoning change was “sparse and conclusory at best, and non-existent at worst.”
After the court invalidated the zoning change, the county asked for a reconsideration. That was denied last week.
It is unclear whether supervisors will continue to appeal. County Attorney Ronnie Artiques Jr. could not be reached for comment.
Biloxi lawyer Robert Wiygul, who represented the plaintiffs, said in a statement the county used “the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass” in the case. “Now it’s time for them to move on, listen to the voice of the public and make zoning decisions that protect our resources and heritage.”