NORTH PORT, Fla. — The price of paradise is hitting the biggest counties to smaller towns. North Port leaders are looking to come up with ways to help its 70,000 residents get a roof over their heads.
Much of the City of North Port is developed into quarter-acre, single-home lots.
"At this particular time at our commission meeting a couple of weeks ago, the commission basically said we're open to evaluating everything — all different types of housing," said Vice Mayor Barbara Langdon.
During two roundtable discussions with city leaders, developers, and local builders on Wednesday morning, they discussed several possible solutions.
There are a lot of options presented by City staff members such as duplexes, cluster homes, tiny homes, and building higher. To move forward with those potential solutions, Langdon says they're working on ways to entice developers to build in the city.
"Being in a position and being willing to offer incentives whether it's tax incentives or impact fees are important because it will help bridge the profitability gap," Langdon explained. "That doesn’t mean we’ll approve them all, but we’re open-minded and we’re looking at all options at this point."
The problem is zoning and that's what is restricting them from some of the ideas.
"Our City code does not even allow something like tiny homes and container homes," Langdon said. "Our current code is very restrictive in terms of density, height."
One of the other big hurdles is the permit process. At the moment, it could take up to a few months for approval. Langdon wants to cut this down to a few weeks as developers tell the City time is money.
"Cities really need to up their game in terms of shortening for permitting for when the shovel goes into the ground," she said.
There are several ways the City of North Port can go. In terms of current solutions, there are seven developments in the pipeline that include planning, construction or completion.
"The City will definitely have to do some re-zoning, so the next piece would be identifying what kind of housing types would be complementary to what’s already here in the city," Langdon said.