It’s been a nine-month process for Palmetto officials to work through limiting the expansion of automotive businesses in the city’s historic downtown core, but a first key step has been finalized.
City officials approved the creation of a 10th Avenue/Old Main Street historic district complete with regulations restricting new automotive related businesses from opening within the boundaries. The district is boxed in from Riverside Drive West to the south, north to 11th Street West and from Ninth Street West to 11th Street west as its east-west borders.
Officials enacted a six-month moratorium last April when interest was expressed in reopening the former Slick’s Garage under new ownership. Officials saw it as counterproductive in future goals to make downtown more walkable friendly. The first of six phases of a Florida Department of Transportation multimodal trail was recently completed and will eventually connect city parks with one trail.
Those projects along with the city’s renovation of Fifth Street West and similar plans for Old Main Street will compliment the FDOT projects. The creation of the new district is not the end, however, to an even longer process.
This was one part of it to make sure about our wakability of that particular corridor.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant
Controversy over the city’s downtown design guidelines, which as it turns out, aren’t guidelines at all, erupted earlier this month. Guidelines were not meant to be in the city’s codes, rather suggestions, but language passed by the commission in 2007 says any improvements proposed are “required to comply with the downtown guidelines.”
That puts some of the language in conflict with the new ordinance and the guidelines, but officials agreed the next step is to do a line-by-line review of the guidelines and bring them up to date.
“It’s going to be a continued clean up and improvement of different districts and a lot of our planning,” said Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant. “This was one part of it to make sure about our walkability of that particular corridor. That was the real focus of this effort. Initially, people were concerned about what we were trying to do because they worry about government overreaching itself, but we are just looking out for the betterment of Palmetto and the safety of pedestrians.”
Bryant said inviting businesses that specifically attract vehicles into parts of the city that highlights walkability, “defeats the planning strategy. We are constantly catching up on things from years past, but we are up to the task.”