The Rockport City Council, acting in its temporary role as the Rockport Heritage District (RHD) Board at its regular meeting Sept. 10, turned down, without prejudice, a Certificate of Appropriateness Application submitted by James Davant. He wants to construct a building at the site of the old JJ’s Café (302 N. Bus. 35) for a retail location, Tropical Maniac. Davant has a similar store in Matagorda.

Compass, LLC’s Matthew Otero, speaking for Davant, said Gary Billy, the owner of the property, has had many offers to buy the property, but is having problems doing so due to the city’s “rules and ordinances.”

Otero said plans for the property meet all the conditions except for the back setback (asking for one-foot, the requirement is five feet).

“James (Davant) came to me because I think outside the box,” said Otero.

City Planner Amanda Torres told the council she asked for information provided at Tuesday’s meeting weeks ago.

Public Works Director Mike Donoho said the Heritage District Overlay requirements are currently being addressed as the city develops its new comprehensive plan. He also noted new state laws that went into effect Sept. 1 also present problems in the RHD.

“There are many things (with this proposal) that need to be reviewed that we don’t have,” said Donoho. “My recommendation is to have a pre-development meeting and go over everything.

“We’ve got to get a lot more information.”

Mayor Pat Rios concurred, saying, “We don’t want to do something that ends up very expensive for (the city and Davant).”

Davant told the council he is just trying to move on the property.

“I would have loved to have done this (provide needed information, etc.) before tonight’s meeting,” he said.

Rios noted many things have changed since the Heritage District Overlay was originally approved, which has made it more difficult to adhere to.

Otero said, “It’s very hard to work through the overlay (requirements) and the (city’s) ordinances. We (the city) should be more welcoming (to development).”

The council unanimously denied Davant’s Certificate of Appropriateness Application without prejudice, and encouraged him to come back to the council after meeting with city staff and presenting detailed plans.

Torres was expected to set up a pre-development meeting with Davant and Otero to address all details.

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