Last fall, we began informal discussions on a variety of city zoning topics. Agenda Item 11 on the April 4, 2017 City Council meeting agenda ("Scheduling of discussion of zoning characteristics and design") begins a process for potentially making zoning decisions integral to the "vision of the City’s present and future land development regulations and or community characteristics." Some of the areas for City Council, City Staff, Residents and Businesses to have early and ongoing input includes (see the City Manager's April 4, 2017 memorandum):
Legal or illegal non-conforming density for residential uses
Desired character and/or protections
Appearance of commercial structures
FEMA – base flood elevation impacts on future projects or within waterfront area
Re-use, re-development and new construction
The above six topics will require us to decide how and when we would like to meet, as well as a time table for when we would like to have recommendations, if we agree as such, that will guide future zoning decisions in Gulfport. These same subject areas reflect numerous discussions underway in the community. It is important for anyone interested in having input to get engaged as early as possible, providing input and ideas for consideration.
Formula (Chain) Stores
Specific items above -- desired character and/or protections and formula stores -- were the subject of one of my previous articles. Right here in City Council Corner, see the story titled "Formula (Chain) Stores in Gulfport, dated November 30, 2016." In the article I covered how small cities can effectively manage formula stores, while maintaining their small city, charming and inviting character. However, before we can ever proceed with addressing formula stores in Gulfport, we must have a well-documented and developed city character profile that clearly illustrates what exactly the city and its residents want to preserve. This vision must also not be so narrow that we negatively impact future progress in Gulfport.
There are already really good examples, as a starting point, of successful formula store ordinances adopted across the U.S. Formula stores cannot be banned, nor should they be, but they can co-exist within a well-designed city zoning ordinance. My November 30, 2017 article has more details on the various ordinance types.
April 18, 2017 City Council Meeting
We will dedicate a portion of our meeting on April 18th on this very important issue, deciding as a City Council how we would like to proceed.