JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 5 Points residents have often screamed 'legalize it', and now they may finally be getting their wish.
When the four-story, 257-unit Bell Riverside apartments (then called Villas of St. Johns) were first proposed in 1999, the complex was one of the first major construction projects to break ground in Five Points in several decades. The development, across from what is now the Riverside Publix, replaced a former surface parking lot previously used for the now-extinct Riverside Hospital.
Land use laws restricting the number and types of animals a person may own are not unheard of, as cities seek to protect property owners from nuisances (unlawful interference with the use and enjoyment of a person’s land), such as unpleasant odors and noise made by animals. However as pets are considered personal property by law, many pet owners contend that such restrictions negatively impact their own property rights. As such, several land use laws restricting pet ownership have been struck down by the court system as being overly invasive and unreasonably warranted.
Although the landmark Riverside/Avondale Zoning Overlay passed in 2008 did not include personally intrusive stipulations regulating pet ownership in the Riverside neighborhood, Bell Riverside residents have never been allowed to house dogs in their units since the complex began accepting tenants in the year 2000. This week, a minor modification (MM-2017-20) was brought before the Planning Commission that requested to strike out a curious written description of the apartment buildings' original zoning application that prohibited dogs in the development.