Residents Voice Concerns At Downtown Gulfport SmartCode Meeting

For the first time since Gulfport adopted SmartCode, city leaders held a meeting to address downtown property owners' concerns and questions. Now that some people have a grasp of the concept, they don't think it's a bad idea.

Doctor Jeffrey Bounds took center stage at Wednesday night's SmartCode Community Plan Session. Bounds outlined the current zoning map for downtown Gulfport. The plan would call for a mixed use area combining business and residential areas.

Johnny Olsen said it's a perfect plan for the city of Gulfport.

"Hurricane Katrina did the worst damage that any one of us can imagine. But the SmartCode is a planned way for these cities, not only Gulfport, but any of the coastal communities, to embrace as a chance to rebuild, make the cities something that they once were in their glory day," Olsen said.

Longtime residents of Gulfport still have some concerns about the project.

"The only thing that we are concerned with is people coming in with a knee-jerk reaction; buying things and trying to get developments and a planning commission without considering how it benefits the neighborhood and the city in general. We really don't want something that sticks up 14 stories and everything else around it is normal homes, because I just don't think you're going to get people to come live in that kind of environment," Gulfport resident Fred Hutchings said.

While some still have doubts about the plan, others say SmartCode is exactly what the city needs.

"It's an organized way to plan instead of sort of a jumbled way like it has been before. I think it turned some people's minds. Of course, there will always be some people who say nothing is going to work," Gulfport resident Jerry Halderman said.

There will be more meetings in the future for other Gulfport communities.

If you were not able to attend Wednesday's Downtown Gulfport meeting, leaders say they still want to meet with you. You can schedule an appointment by calling Lisa Bradley at (228) 547-6478.