Port St. Joe commissioners will hold a workshop 5 p.m. ET tonight to sift through some of the technical aspects of a plan to rezone Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
The workshop will be in the Ward Ridge Commission meeting room.
The rezoning plan, crafted by the North Port St. Joe Project Area Coalition (NPSJ-PAC) and approved by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency, focuses on putting in place the framework for renewing the North Port St. Joe neighborhood.
The PSJRA advanced the plan to the City Commission in March; in 2006, most of North Port St. Joe was included in an expansion of the redevelopment agency’s boundaries, requiring PSJRA approval of the plan.
“The plan matches a theme we are trying to do on Reid Ave.,” said Bill Kennedy, executive director of the PSJRA. “It is very consistent in its elements and direction.”
John Hendry, consultant to the NPSJ-PAC said in March that the plan’s next needed the more detailed examination coming from the city and its planner.
The plan, Hendry said, outlined infrastructure improvements and information necessary to amend the city’s comp plan and LDRs to attract investment and economic development along Martin Luther King.
The city’s ability to grasp hold of the plan, though, was initially stymied by the retirement of the city’s long-time planner.
Chester Davis, president of the NPSJ-PAC has for weeks been urging commissioners to schedule a workshop to move the plan ahead.
Tonight’s meeting is the first time the city’s new planning consultant has been able to sit down with all commissioners, as well as officials with the NPSJ-PAC and Hendry.
The key question for the PAC tonight is about process.
“What is the detailed public process, or what are the formal steps, required for the city to proceed with the implementation of the proposed overlay districts, or rezoning, for the Martin Luther King Blvd. corridor?” Hendry said.
The amended master plan proposes and documents in detail three “overlay districts”, rezoning, believed essential to revitalizing the MLK business and residential mixed use corridor.
Hendry said the overlay districts emerged from discussions with the city’s former planning consultant.
To attract investment along MLK, it was suggested, would be best accomplished with districts, tailored by varying the underlying land use regulations to meet a district’s needs.
The tool is often used across the country as cities attempt to revitalize struggling downtowns, Hendry said.
Hendry offered an example.
The current LDRs allow up to 15 residential units per acre; this would allow “up to” two dwelling units in a mixed-use building on a typical 5.500 square-foot lot on MLK.
A new three-story mixed use building on that same lot would provide at least three dwelling units above a ground floor of retail space.
Adding an additional floor could provide up to six residential units; in this case simply eliminating the 15 units per acre rule for that specific district would “significantly increase the feasibility of MLK regaining its soul as a commercial district,” Hendry said.
The zoning plan emerged from a yearlong process, including a series of public workshops, initiated by the NPSJ-PAC to update the master plan for the area adopted when it was folded into the redevelopment area.
Discussions quickly zeroed in on MLK Blvd. as the key to uplifting the neighborhood.
The primary issue along MLK is the mixed use zoning which, Hendry said, does not work for the neighborhood and needs to be updated.
The new zoning plan proposes more flexibility and a more tailored approach to zoning density rules.
Hendry also noted that a range of real estate and economic development incentives have been identified as part of the rezoning plan.
The NPSJ-PAC is also using the plan has a platform for seeking outside funding for infrastructure improvements.
“This shows we are serious about this,” Hendry said.