Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Not So Fast Changing Rules for St. Simons; A Planning Panel Holds off on Regulations for Roadway Buildings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Not So Fast Changing Rules for St. Simons; A Planning Panel Holds off on Regulations for Roadway Buildings

Article excerpt

Byline: CAROLE HAWKINS

ST. SIMONS ISLAND - A zoning commission will create new rules before controlling the appearance of commercial buildings along St. Simons Island's main thoroughfares.

The Islands Planning Commission deferred on Tuesday a decision to create a new Island Preservation District, which would have affected the St. Simons pier village area and buildings on commercial roadways across the entire island.

County staff made the new zoning proposal following complaints of businesses erecting structures along the island's main arteries that did not fit in with the look of buildings already there, said county Community Development Manager David Hainley.

But about 60 residents and business owners told the planning commission Tuesday night they didn't yet understand the multitude of regulations in the proposed zoning plan, which could force business owners to go through a lengthy application process to simply paint their buildings a different color. Some rules seemed too restrictive and others not restrictive enough, they said.

Planning commission members agreed to revisit the issue at their June 21 meeting and spoke informally of holding a public workshop before then.

"We are not here to ram this down anyone's throat," said member John Dow. "I think this input is great. I don't think that anyone has been saying that what we have in front of us is absolute."

The new Island Preservation District was to be an overlay type of zoning. Governments add zoning overlays to further control the architecture and character of an area by adding a layer of rules to the main zoning regulations.

The pier village already has such an overlay to preserve its historic look, but St. Simons' main highways do not. The amendment would update the pier village's existing overlay and extend it to streets such as Demere Road, Kings Way, Sea Island Road and Frederica Road, among others. The rules would not apply to single- and two-family homes along those roads. …

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