Board members from the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce say a cleaner Destin could help spur economic development.
"As we continue to promote economic development, we want our city to be attractive to prospective businesses and their employees," said Bill Lindsley, immediate past chairman of the chamber's board of directors.
Lindsley was at a recent City Council meeting to present city leaders with a resolution that would support stronger code enforcement guidelines in the city of Destin. He told city leaders the resolution was drafted after they were approached by residents and board members that were concerned about "the look of our city."
The resolution encourages the city to "review and enhance" its code enforcement laws and ordinances, while taking the necessary steps to ensure regulations can be enforced for the "purpose of maintaining the beauty (of the city) and protecting the environment."
"I'm not proposing for the city to measure yards with a ruler," Lindsley told city leaders.
Specific items that the chamber would like to see addressed include:
· Not allowing homes to have blue tarps on their roofs for more than a year after a storm.
· Requiring real estate signs in residential neighborhoods to be residential size. Taking down signs that announce a commercial building is 100 percent leased. Reducing unnecessary "sign noise."
· If someone is going to keep a boat in their front yard, it should be parked on a paved surface. A single boat is OK, but three or four become an "eyesore."
· Cars should be parked on a paved surface.
· Carports should be used for storing cars, and not "five years worth of un-sellable" garage sale material.
Making simple changes to the city's codes or the way they are enforced, Lindsley said, would make a big difference in the city. A cleaner city would help boost property values, which in turn could increase property tax revenue, he said.
"Most importantly, those of us who live here deserve an attractive city and while great strides have been made to beautify the community, we should all be concerned with areas of this community that aren't up to the minimum standards we have," he said.
And while he agreed with the chamber's position, Councilman Jim Wood said he would like to get rid of some "eyesores" around town, but enforcement can be "a challenge."
"I echo your concerns," Councilman Tuffy Dixon told Lindsley. "I think this is something we definitely need to look at."
At the end of the day, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shane Moody told The Log that the resolution was drafted to address a broad range of concerns throughout the community, and was a subject that the chamber has been talking about for quite some time.
"Who wants to live or work in a place that appears to be blighted?" he said. "We are looking out for everyone in this community."
"Destin is headed down a very dangerous path where there is a cheapening of the community," Moody added. "If we don't pay attention to it, we are going to loose that jewel of the Emerald Coast appeal."