NEWS

Zoning change on the table for Gulf Resort Mixed-Use area

Savannah Vasquez
svasquez@thedestinlog.com
This rendering depicts the land use zoning for Destin. The light teal color shows the Gulf Resort Mixed-Use Area.

Ever wonder why there are no grocery stores on the south side of U.S. Hwy. 98 from Gulf Shore Drive to Henderson Beach State Park? The answer is simple, grocery stores are currently prohibited in the 234-acre zoning area known as Gulf Resort Mixed-Use.

That might be changing however, as the city's planning division is now researching the zoning in that area and will bring their findings before the city council during the Sept. 21 meeting.

“Myself and those of us in the planning division are going to write up a staff report about allowing or permitting grocery stores in the Gulf Resort Mixed Use area,” said City Community Development Director Ken Gallander. “The city is going to go through the process of evaluating, but it’s going to be awhile before it’s approved if council wants it.”

The reason there is no given timeframe on the approval or disapproval of the grocery store zoning, Gallander said, is that the ruling would affect the entire city.

“That permitted use would be for that entire zoning district,” said Gallander.

So who would be affected by this change?

Deborah Merwin of Feelin’ Good Health Foods, a current business within the Gulf Resort Mixed Use area said she and other business owners in Shoreline Village are curious of the proposed change.

“Basically I’m interested in knowing how would it pertain to this area?” she said. “How does this impact our business? We are always interested in knowing what is going on in this plaza, and new developments in the city.”

Merwin said she personally hasn’t decided if it would be a positive or negative change and she will be attending the upcoming council meeting to hear the city’s assessment.

“As business owners we just want to know the truth, and know where we stand,” she said.

For his part, Gallander said he is for allowing grocery stores in the mixed use area.

“A grocery store has some legitimate grounds in terms of it being complimentary to mixed use and closer to higher density population,” he said. “You could walk to the grocery store from Gulf Shore Drive, the condominiums and resorts and wouldn’t have to cross 98, so it fits well in my opinion.”

Gallander added that there are currently no negotiations taking place with a grocer or developer in the Gulf Resort Mixed Use area.

“We have not met with any Wal-Mart people or any specific grocery store or super market owner,” he said. “We have only discussed it with the property owners. They get inquiries from various grocery store businesses to lease space, but through the zoning it’s prohibited.”

City council meetings are held at the City Hall Annex at 4100 Indian Bayou Trail and are open to the public. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. For more information, see www.cityodestin.com.