The Community Development Department is responsible for overseeing the orderly growth and development of Biloxi, which has been a daunting task in the past several years because of the tremendous economic boost the city has experienced with casino gaming and even more since since Aug. 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed 6,000 homes and businesses in the city.
One of the most important tools of the Community Development Department is the Planning Commission, a panel of citizens appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council. The commission reviews zoning matters on a regular basis, and makes recommendations to the Mayor and City Council. In some areas, where construction is planned in historic areas of the city, plans also are reviewed by an Architectural and Historical Review Commission.
When construction is planned, a team of veteran inspectors reviews and oversees all aspects of the process for both residential and commercial projects.
The Community Development Department is also responsible for overseeing the administration of all federal and state programs, taxing and licensing businesses, and operating several city-owned museums and historic properties.
In recent years, the city has placed more emphasis on the appearance of streets and neighborhoods by strictly enforcing city codes involving appearance of property. This process is overseen by the department's Code Enforcement Division, which works closely with the Community Court division of the Legal Department.
There are 26 full-time employees and 10 part-time employees in the Community Development Department, as well as seven contract employees. The divisions of this department are: Federal-State Programs; Planning and Zoning; Building and Code Enforcement; Tax and Licensing; Museums and Cultural Affairs; and Economic Development.