March 2, 2012
Minor zoning changes in the works
GULFPORT — The City Council next month will consider a plan to modify land use regulations in parts of Gulfport, and some residents are wondering what the proposed changes will mean for their properties.
Currently some parts of the city are governed by traditional zoning regulations, and other areas are under Smart Code, which was enacted after Hurricane Katrina.
The proposed changes to the regulations would completely removed Smart Code from Hansboro, Mississippi City and downtown. In place of Smart Code, those areas will go back to using the traditional zoning laws while retaining some of the functions of Smart Code with minor changes.
For example, a portion of Smart Code that requires alleyway access from many properties would be deleted and a “zero setback” requirement that results in buildings being constructed just feet from busy streets, such as Tegarden Road, will be increase to 15 feet.
However, the proposal calls for two neighborhoods, West Side and Florence Gardens, to remain under the current Smart Code ordinance.
The reason for the proposed modifications is to help make building easier in areas of the city that have struggle under Smart Code since 2005.
“These changes will make development in those areas more user-friendly and provide greater legal protection” said Greg Holmes, deputy planning administrator. It is important that residents know these changes are intended to remedy some of the concerns inherent with our smart code.” For example, under the current Smart Code developers are not required to notify surrounding neighbors of request for warrants. Under traditional zoning such notification is mandated by state law. In another instance, according to Smart Code, “retail” which is currently allowed in the mixed use and commercial transect zones. However, the code does not specifically define exactly what the word “retail” means. In recent years, this minor omission has resulted in at least one barroom being built across from a church. Under the city’s traditional zoning law, the bar would have to be at least 1,000 feet from the church.
In response to other some questions raised recently, Holmes said density levels currently available under Smart Code will remain the same.
With these proposed changes city planners are attempting to avoid future conflicts, such as liquor stores being operated next daycare centers or within close proximate to residential neighborhoods.
The City Council could vote on the changes as early as March 20th.
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