CHIPLEY — Residential housing may be coming back to downtown Chipley.

CHIPLEY — Residential housing may be coming back to downtown Chipley.

The City Council heard the first reading on Tuesday, March 12, of an ordinance to allow building owners to provide housing with the upper floors of their buildings in the historic district of downtown Chipley.

Currently the law only allows residential occupancy of a building by the owner, but this would allow building owners to rent out their upper floors as residences.

“As all of you know, a lot of the buildings downtown are not being used at all,” City Administrator Dan Miner said. “Back many years ago, there used to be quite a bit of residential use of the upper floors.”

According to the ordinance, the street level floor of the buildings shall still be used as commercial, but the upstairs can be rented out. “This will allow the building owners to utilize the whole building, not just half of it,” Miner said.

“The buildings will have to meet code, and it will depend on what the business is as to whether or not it is practical to have housing upstairs.”

“This is kind of the first step,” Miner said. “What we are really doing is offering the option for people to have this usage in the future.”

Mayor Linda Cain said the ordinance calls for off-street parking for residences, and that usages will have to conform with the historical designs found in the downtown area.

Councilman Kevin Russell asked how the city would enforce parking issues.

Miner said it would take the commitment of the city and the property owners alike to manage parking. “We have lots downtown, so people might have to walk a little bit from their cars to their apartments.”

“That is something the business would have to work out with their tenants,” Cain said.