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Jacksonville Riverside Zoning Plan Causes Social Media Stir

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City of Jacksonville
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Jacksonville social media has been on fire this week with outcry over a Jacksonville City Council proposal dealing with Riverside’s historic overlay — that’s a map showing where types of buildings and activities are allowed to happen.

Council unanimously approved the historic overlay map in 2008. The intent of the map is to protect the area’s character and historical integrity. It designates some areas as residential, and others are commercial or for offices.

In May, City Council OK’d a controversial 150-seat Riverside restaurant called The Roost. Many surrounding neighbors and the Riverside Avondale Preservation protested because it’s in what’s called a “residential character” area.

Neighbors said there wasn’t enough parking and it would be open too late. People in favor of the restaurant said they welcomed the additional eatery option.

The Roost is taking the place of a vacant laundromat on Oak Street. When it was approved, it was rezoned from commercial-residential to a Planned Unit Development. PUDs allow for “mixed use” of the property.

Now a City Council bill aims to clarify and strengthen rules that govern the map, so PUDs have to adhere to the overlay rules. That wasn’t clear before. If it passes, another Roost wouldn’t be able to open in a residential neighborhood without some restrictions.

Proposed rules, like new restaurants must close at 8 p.m. and can have just 60 seats, caused online fury after Metro Jacksonville posted a story about the plan, labeling it “toxic.”  

The rules would apply to future restaurants in residential areas. A restaurant could only be approved in a residential area if the parcel was already zoned commercial.

That would apply to “a small number of properties in the overall Riverside Avondale district,” says Nancy Powell, Chair of the Riverside Avondale Preservation Zoning Committee. She adds, the legislation doesn’t put any restrictions on existing restaurants in residential areas or future restaurants in commercial areas, like parts of King Street and 5 Points.

Powell said RAP supports the bill’s overall intent, but her organization is still studying it and wants to hear from the public before making any recommendations.

RAP is having an information session about the bill Wednesday, Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.