Drive-Through -- Conditional Use to a Permitted Use
October 28, 2016
At the October 18 City Council meeting, we discussed the Gulfport Zoning Board recommendation for a “text amendment” to Chapter 22 of the Code of Ordinances, specific to the CL-1 (Commercial Limited) zoning area. CL-1 is a narrow area on Gulfport Blvd, from 58th to 55th Streets (see image below). Our discussion centered around “drive-throughs” in CL-1 when associated with a permitted property use (e.g., restaurants, pharmacy, banks, etc.). Current CL-1 property uses already with drive-throughs are Regents Bank, Walgreens and the funeral home. The CL-2 zoning area (see image below) already provides for the conditional use of “drive-throughs.”
Restaurants are legally permitted, by Gulfport City Ordinance, in the CL-1 zoning area. An application for a Dunkin Donuts is currently anticipated from the private property owner of 5602 Gulfport Blvd (note: site plans for the restaurant will be made available to City Council at a later date). The “text amendment” allows for a conditional use drive-through for the proposed restaurant (again, a permitted use in CL-1).
Below are a few of my comments at the October 18th City Council meeting on this subject matter.
By city ordinance (Chapter 22), restaurants are currently permitted in CL-1.
We need more specifics on green space requirements associated with restaurants with approved conditional use drive-throughs.
I inquired about prior CL-1 drive-through discussions by City Council. Apparently none have taken place (not even on the drive-throughs already in the CL-1 zoning area).
I emphasized the importance of enhancing the “standards” associated with this specific conditional use text amendment (CL-1). I want the standards to provide better solutions for potential issues such as litter/trash, odors, vehicle exhaust, noise, lighting, speaker, hours of operation, etc.
I stressed the importance of not just fencing as a noise buffer, but the use of very specific and well-designed matured landscaping that can be designed to serve as an extra noise buffering system. I found several examples used by commercial properties adjacent to residential communities.
The traffic “stacking study” should be required v. “may” be considered.
This conditional use text amendment for drive-throughs is not about “formula stores” (i.e., chain stores). As such, I proposed at the City Council meeting that we consider developing zoning restrictions for formula/chain stores within the City of Gulfport. I researched and provided to our City Attorney a list of such restrictions and ordinances by other municipal governments. It is my opinion that with such a zoning ordinance, we strengthen our support for small businesses, address citizen concerns with formula stores, and safeguard our small town character. Formula stores interested in Gulfport will still have the opportunity to consider our city for their business venture, but in specific areas only. I shared at the City Council meeting that formula stores can potentially be restricted to CL-2, which is our more intense zoning area. A formula (chain) store zoning restriction provides better direction and make this issue less alarming in the future. I will bring this proposal up again at a City Council meeting.
We will have an opportunity to review and comment on specifics pertaining to the proposed Dunkin Donuts restaurant once we are in receipt of the application and specifics.