On February 27, 1971, A. S. Johnson filed a request with the Zoning Board of Gulfport, Mississippi, to change the zoning of 22 lots in Venetian Gardens Subdivision from Residential to Commercial "A" so that he could build a 60-unit apartment complex thereon. No plats, plans or specifications of any kind were attached to the request to rezone. The request consisted of 2 short paragraphs on one sheet of Johnson's letterhead stationery.
On April 7, 1971, the Zoning Board with four members present, after discussing the Johnson request, passed this motion: "[T]he Board recommends that the above described
property be rezoned from Residential to Commercial" A "District."
On June 15, 1971, the Mayor and Board of Commissioners of the City of Gulfport, consisting of Mayor Philip W. Shaw, Commissioner Charles L. Walker, who was also City Clerk, and Commissioner H. E. Blakeslee, approved by a two to one vote Johnson's request to rezone; Shaw and Walker voting "For" and Blakeslee voting "Against" .
The only finding of the rezoning ordinance was:
"[T]he Mayor and Board of Commissioners of the City of Gulfport, Mississippi, do find and determine that the general welfare of the Community as well as the existing needs and development and a reasonable consideration of the character of the district and suitability for particular purposes, . . ."
Ray E. Smith and others, being 100% of the home owners in Venetian Gardens Subdivision, appealed to the circuit court of Harrison County by Bill of Exceptions, signed by the Mayor, as being a true and correct statement of "the facts, judgment and decision," required by Section 1195, Mississippi Code 1942 Annotated (Supp. 1972).
The Bill of Exceptions contained as Exhibit "C" thereto the written objections signed by every home owner in Venetian Gardens Subdivision, which objections had been filed with the City Council before it acted on June 15th. Exhibit "C" recited:
"Some of the reasons for our objections to rezoning are:
The safety of our children is involved due to increased traffic congestion on the narrow, dead end street.
The health of our families could be endangered due to the lack of adequate water supply and sewage disposal.
And, due to the above, property values in the area could be drastically reduced."
A copy of the Minutes of the Mayor and Board of Commissioners of the City of Gulfport of June 15, 1971,
was attached as Exhibit "E" to the Bill of Exceptions. Those Minutes recited that numerous residents of Venetian Gardens Subdivision objected to the proposed rezoning because they felt that the safety of their families and homes would be jeopardized by the construction of a sixty-unit apartment complex in a residential subdivision of one-family homes. The ...