City Commission looking at restricting certain businesses in popular mixed use districts

NEW SMYRNA BEACH — Should certain types of businesses be restricted in mixed use districts such as Flagler Avenue and Canal Street? That is the question city commissioners will seek consensus on after Zone 2 Commissioner Lisa Martin, who represents New Smyrna Beach’s beachside residents, raised the issue during their April 11 regular meeting.

“The background of this is that there are businesses such as the smoke shop that I don’t really think we want on Flagler Avenue and, rather than wait for 17 more to pop up, I would like to ask staff to look at expanding the list to include pawn shops, tattoo parlors, smoke shops, gun stores, and package stores,” said Martin.

Martin’s fellow commissioners signaled preliminary support for having city planners present them with a range of options to help preserve the character of the popular districts while urging careful deliberation moving forward.

“I understand where you’re coming from. I know that there are some people on Flagler who’ve reached out to me with some concern of some smoke shops,” said Zone 3 Commissioner Jason McGuirk. “This is more of a long-term process because you can’t just start banning different things. There’s a process to it.”

Mayor Fred Cleveland also weighed in: “I see signs up in town already about government overreach. I’m sensitive to what the optics are about us telling who what kind of shops they can open up and cannot open up. So, I think we just need to be mindful of that.”

Of the options city planners have generated to date, none involve shutting down businesses that are already open. They do include:

1.      Take no action and keep the current list of permitted uses

2.      Remove undesirable or add desirable permitted uses, which are allowed by right without any approvals

3.      Classify certain uses as special exceptions that could be approved by the Planning & Zoning Board and City Commission on a case-by-case basis

4.      Impose buffers between similar uses to prevent them from clustering together; for example, businesses that sell alcohol but not food on Flagler Avenue are currently required to maintain a buffer of at least 1,000 feet

5.      Allow certain uses with conditions; for example, tattoo parlors are currently allowed in mixed use business districts but cannot front Flagler Avenue or Canal Street

To date, city planners have met with representatives of the Southeast Volusia Chamber of CommerceFlagler Avenue Business Association, and Canal Street Business, and plan to present the item to members of the city’s Planning & Zoning Board as well during their next regular public meeting Monday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the James W. Hathaway Commission Chambers at 214 Sams Ave.

Residents are encouraged to learn more about the issue and share their ideas by taking a quick four-question survey here.

Video replay of the April 11 meeting is available here, with discussion on the item beginning at time 2:08:00.

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