The city of Bridgeport could soon add new zoning restrictions to its downtown, as the council met Monday and discussed establishing a historic district overlay.
The overlay would grant the city greater ability to regulate what types of businesses could move downtown. The proposed overlay would extend from Halsell and 13th Street to Halsell and Texas 114, completely covering downtown Halsell Street and the side streets and alleyways along that road.
“Right now it’s all commercial, so whatever our standard commercial regulations are, that’s what applies to downtown,” City Manager Jesica McEachern said. “Really where we started from was the question, if somebody came in right now and said, ‘I want to put a used car lot on Halsell’… with our zoning, it’s allowed. We’re just encouraging y’all to take a step back and think about it; is that the right use that fits here?”
Mayor Randy Singleton said that since so much time and money has been spent on downtown with the Halsell Street Improvement Project it only makes sense to add extra protections to the area.
“We need to do everything we can to preserve our history,” he said. “It’s one of the few things we can cling to here, and I think this would be a good way for us to move forward with our downtown area.”
Main Street Manager Tiffany Evans addressed the council to say that if the overlay is implemented, they expect the downtown area to drive more tourism to Bridgeport. She offered a preliminary list of what businesses the Main Street program would approve for downtown under the overlay, including retail stores, restaurants, bars, loft apartments, museums, bed and breakfasts, art galleries and event venues. The council discussed allowing office spaces on a case-by-case basis.
Workshops will be held in the future to determine other special regulations, like sign allowances and architectural guidelines, to apply to the historic district overlay. Businesses currently within the proposed zone will not be affected by the regulations.
The council also:
- granted a sign ordinance variance for a way-finding sign at Harwood Park.
- approved the final plat for 1603 Cates St.
- granted a bid for city pool improvements to Wave Custom Pools. The bid is for $40,705, and $20,000 will paid for by a grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
- discussed purchasing amenities for the pool, including a new diving board and a floating log toy.
- discussed proposed improvements to the Law Enforcement Center building.
- discussed the hiking and biking trail plans for Northwest Park.