Gulfport taking hard look at SmartCode

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After Katrina planners from around America came to the Coast with ideas to help redevelop storm ravaged cities.

The biggest idea was called SmartCode. Gulfport adopted the new codes and now some in the city are pushing to take another look at it.

Katrina's destructive path left a clean slate along the Coast in 2005. One year later the city of Gulfport decided to adopt a land development ordinance for planning and urban design called SmartCode.

Some, like Councilman Ricky Dombrowski think SmarCode has created some problems.

Among other things SmartCode requires parking in the back of buildings, something Dombrowski said he is seeing personally with a new restaurant he's building on Teagarden Road.

"The biggest issue I'm having is not being allowed to have parking out front. I had to purchase a lot across the street and I'll have additional parking in the back," Dombrowski said.

Dombrowski and other elected officials along with some builders object to SmartCode provisions like setback changes that put new construction closer to the road. And promote density issues like zero lot lines.

"It's more of an aesthetic problem because you have the checker board effect with homes set back and new structures right on the road," said Dombrowski.

The concept seems to be more appropriate in downtown areas and new housing developments where so called walkable communities are encouraged.

The Councilman said some in established sub-divisions fear SmartCode could impose on traditional neighborhood standards.

"There are good ideas that fit on a blank slate, but do not work in places that are already built out. It doesn't work at all," Dombrowski said.

There have been several public meetings dedicated to the issue and more are being planned.

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