Council votes to keep Bay Street business closed

Council votes to keep Bay Street business closed

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - An old gas station on Bay Street will stay closed, but future growth on the Hattiesburg corridor is still an option.

Hattiesburg City Council voted to deny a petition to change the rezoning for the site from Single Family Residential to Neighborhood Business Tuesday.

The petition for the old gas station at 314 Bay Street, filed by Corey Arrington, was a topic of debate in a public hearing Monday night.

Arrington told council members he wanted to be able to re-open the gas station, which first opened in the 1960's, as a convenience store.  Neighbors and the representatives from the Hattiesburg Historic Neighborhood Association said the business was unnecessary to the area and a problem when it was open.

Council member Deborah Delgado, representing Ward 2, said the process over the gas station, which had been going on since 2014, was unfair to Arrington.

"I think we are doing this young man and his brother a great disservice by continuing to cost them to be a business owners in the city they were born in a grew up in," Delgado said.

Council President Carter Carroll said with a rezoning process, the leaders have to listen to all the needs of the business owners, residents and the neighborhood.

"No, it has nothing to do with people trying to open businesses," Carroll said.  "It was a specific location that just did not fit in that area."

Another vote went towards the "Future Land Use" for the area of Bay Street, filed by the HHNA.  Council voted to deny the amendment to the city's Comprehensive Plan, which was proposed to change the corridor from Hall Avenue to Gordon's Creek from Neighborhood Business to Neighborhood Conservation District.  That change in classification does not eliminate, but could make a person's process of opening a business more difficult.

"Well, I think we have to strike a balance between safe guarding neighborhoods and also making sure out city is welcoming to young entrepreneurs, particular those that want to invest in their city," said Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker.

Carroll said while the city has made it's decision on the property, the battle over the site could continue if the owner decided to take the city to court.