A workshop last week for impacted property owners did not result in the turnout Port St. Joe officials had hoped, but it nonetheless advanced a plan to rezone Martin Luther King, Jr., Blvd.
The workshop drew just over a dozen property owners for a review of the plan as the city prepares next steps in the rezoning process.
The city sent letters to more than 100 property owners who might be impacted by the MLK plan.
City commissioners had sought the workshop as a way of gauging community support for the plan.
Of those who attended, a few spoke, a couple in favor, a couple opposed to certain aspects.
The next steps are a formal survey of those same impacted property owners assessing their approval, or disapproval, in writing of the rezoning plan.
After that survey, undertaken by city planner Ray Greer, is complete the city will hold a required series of three public workshops, including one in front of the city’s planning board, before considering final action on the rezoning proposal.
Meanwhile, the city is also undertaking an assessment of infrastructure needs should the plan’s increase in density limits be approved: as proposed for some areas of the rezoned corridor, density limits would increase from 15 to 25 units per acre.
A major change in the community’s dynamics, as proposed in the amended master plan and zoning proposal, would be increases in height limits from 35 feet to 60.
“The height and the units per acre, those are going to be your big changes,” Greer has said. “It is a pretty substantial increase in height.
The rezoning is seen as the catalyst for redevelopment of the neighborhood of North Port St. Joe and builds on an update of a master plan originally formalized in 2006.
The amended plan, sponsored by the North Port St. Joe Project Area Coalition (NPSJ-PAC), was approved earlier this year by the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency and forwarded to the Commission, which also gave its approval.
In short strokes, the proposed rezoning would involve maintaining the current underlying mixed-use category under which most of the corridor is zoned, as outlined again last week by consultant John Hendry.
On top of that would be “overlay” districts, three zones which would have specific land use regulations dictating the residential/commercial mix within that district.
A central goal would be preserving the historic and current mix on MLK; predominantly commercial between Avenues A and D and predominantly residential from Avenue D north.
“We didn’t want a one-size-fits-all zoning so we could preserve what is there, we want to preserve the sense of neighborhood,” Hendry said.
The plan provided the elements to create workforce or affordable housing within the neighborhood.
The plan also puts forth a framework to expand lodging and dining options within the neighborhood for both visitors and residents.
And, Hendry emphasized, the rezoning plan, the master plan, are pieces in a puzzle to address the blight in North Port St. Joe and along MLK, conditions in stark contrast to the revival that has taken place along Reid Ave.
“It is essential the neighborhood, the city and the county come up with the best way of eliminating this blight,” Hendry said. “There will have to be a coherent and integrated plan for this.
“This needs the support of everybody. We want everybody to come together in a positive way to determine how to fix this.”