GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Planning Commission's decision on Thursday to approve a zoning change has opened the door to develop a General Dollar store on a scenic byway.
The commission approved the change from residential/estate to neighborhood business at the corner of Highway 605 and O'Neal Road.
The planning commission originally rejected the request by the developer in September, but requested a second hearing from the city council after some aesthetic changes were made to the design.
"I want to emphasize that the developer has gone to great lengths to make modifications based on the scenic nature of this highway," said attorney Bill Williams, who represents the property owner and developer.
Bill said the upgrade will cost $100,000 and will include masonry brick, not metal. The entire investment will be $1.5 million.
The plan was well received by commission chairman Keith Williams.
"I commend the city and also the developers for these changes and the work that has been done," Keith said.
Most people in attendance supported the change, and a few objected. The zoning change passed 8 to 1 with commissioner Colette Towles casting the lone dissenting vote.
"I feel like there's going to be a danger," resident Janet Stewart said. "There's going to be a lot of accidents."
Resident Ann Barton agreed, but was worried about a rise in crime and lack of maintenance.
"Whatever it is they say they're going to do to maintain this property right there where we are affected, I don't believe that," Barton said. "I think it will make our crime worse, our taxes go up and then our house rates will go down. It'll just be bad."
Towles was disappointed in the turnout.
"We greatly value comments of the residents, and many times that has been the deciding vote on how I go on a project, by virtue of the people who were here and speaking for or against it. I just want to make that acknowledgement that we have very few speaking against this project."
The recommendation will now be sent to the Gulfport City Council for final approval. The earliest it will be considered is Feb. 3.