Backers of an overlay district on South Palm Avenue had hoped to get fast-track approval of the special zoning area.
What they are seeking is to enforce building setbacks and prohibit commercial development on South Palm from Ringling Boulevard to Mound Street.
“In theory, someone could build a bar, gas station, 7-Eleven or a McDonald’s,” said Jerry Elden, a member of the Coalition of Bayfront Citizens, which supports the overlay. “That’s inconsistent with the neighborhood.”
The CBC has been vocal at City Commission meetings during the past year, and because little opposition was voiced, the city was moving quickly on approving the district.
It had been set for an early May hearing before commissioners.
But several opponents made their voices heard at the March 21 commission meeting.
“I have never seen such an unbelievable waste of everyone’s time,” said property owner John Melk, who, along with other property owners, urged the commission to slow down the process.
Commissioners listened and delayed the public hearing until June, after the new commission will be seated.
Both opponents and supporters are planning to meet this week to try to come to a consensus before June.
Elden said he’d like the entire neighborhood to carry a united message at that June meeting.
But because some neighbors say the issue has divided the community, it may take some time to accomplish that unity.
Crome Dollase is board president of the Regency House, one of the few condo buildings that does not want an overlay district.
“It’s contrary to what (property owners) relied on when they bought or developed property,” he said.
The residential zoning was changed in 2005 to mixed-use, which allows commercial businesses and eliminated building setbacks.
Overlay supporters have proposed setbacks of 20 feet from the right of way in the front and between 10 and 15 feet on the sides. They say it’s necessary to maintain the residential nature of the neighborhood.
“It’s a totally residential street,” said Elden.
Dollase cites examples of property owners with small parcels that would have only tiny areas on which to build if those setbacks were imposed.
“You can’t take someone’s property without compensating them for it,” Dollase said.
Elden said he believes the two sides can come to a compromise on the size of the setbacks.
But Dollase said he would rather the city withdraw the overlay proposal altogether.
Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].