Downtown designs discussed

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CRA visits Planning and Zoning Commission

By The Staff

Williston’s Planning and Zoning Commission held its monthly meeting on Tuesday evening and hosted members of the Community Redevelopment Agency to review the design guidelines for the downtown area of the city.

In addition to discussions within the committee, the CRA had sent out a questionnaire to business owners within the city asking their opinion on architectural styles and design features that would enhance the area.

Bruce Day, Planning Director for the Withlacoochee Regional Planning Council, made a presentation having to do with the architectural styles that have been discussed and commented upon. After some discussion, the panels came to general agreement that the most appropriate styles for downtown were Florida Cracker (Southern Vernacular), Victorian, Spanish Mission and Arts and Crafts.

They also briefly discussed the other elements of the survey, including landscaping, signage, awnings and lighting. The WRPC staff report had noted that “pedestrian access was a key concern,” and added that “pedestrian-oriented improvements such as benches, awnings or canopies, landscaping and better defined pedestrian space” also ranked high among respondents to the questionnaire.

Day gave participants a draft copy of the city of Chiefland’s design guidelines for review.

As the CRA continues to develop the design guidelines, which are intended for commercial development, the public will be encouraged to attend its meetings and to participate in the process.

P&Z also passed and sent on to the city council two amendments to the city’s Land Development Regulations. One, which would prohibit signs in the first block of Heritage Park (the block in front of city hall) engendered some discussion. The site at the Noble Avenue end of the block has been used for political signs and banners advertising events in the park. If the council passes the change to the LDRs, those signs will likely be moved across Noble Avenue. Virginia McDonald and Don Nelson dissented from the majority of the commission.

The second LDR change relates to the distance between “accessory uses and structures” and the rear property line of lots in the city. That was unanimously changed from ten feet to five feet. Terry Summers, secretary of the P&Z panel and an authority on the LDRs, told the members that the original LDRs had specified five feet, and, for no reason that anyone could discover, that had been changed when the LDRs were rewritten.

At its Monday night meeting, the CRA had been informed of the low bid for the installation of hand railings on the Main Street side of block one of the Heritage Park. The bid of $5,600 was received from Brays of Ocala.

Collins also said that the city had received the application from the Florida Department of Transportation for a change to the curb cut on the parking area behind the library. Once the drawings are sent to FDOT, approval is expected and the parking lot will be more accessible to the public.

The CRA also approved Burrell Engineering’s bid of $5,990 for design services for phase 2 of Heritage Park. They also will send to city council a request that McMillen Surveying do a topographical survey of the entire Heritage Park. All of the expenses having to do with the park are paid from TIF monies in the CRA’s funds.

CRA chair Ken Schwiebert also reminded the committee of plans to install or improve other sidewalks in the areas immediately behind city hall and the post office. The plans for this year include the first block of Northwest 1st Street and both sides of the second block of Northwest 1st Avenue.

The next meeting of the CRA will be held on Monday, May 11, at 5:15 p.m. in the city council chambers. The public is encouraged to attend and to participate in the committee’s deliberations. The regular second meeting in May has been cancelled because it falls on Memorial Day.