New Zoning Code for Downtown Causes Concern

New Zoning Code for Downtown Causes Concern

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In downtown Mobile, there's an historic district called DeTonti Square.

It's a mixture of residential and commercial properties. Mary Bridler's husband move here in the 1950's. He even helped name it. They owned 6 properties over the years. She recently sold the last of the properties to commercial businesses.

"We have been able to survive down here with apartments, with a funeral home, with lawyer's offices and with any other business that's down here. We get along great. So we don't want to change it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Mary Bridler.

Under a new rezoning code, DeTonti Square is currently considered T4, which allows residential and commercial businesses. But under a new rezoning code headed by the Downtown Mobile Alliance, DeTonti Square will become T3, which is residential only.  That means if a business closes or moves and the business license isn't renewed within 2 years, the property will become residential use only.

The Downtown Mobile Alliance hired an Architecture and Urban planning company called Duany, Plater-Zyberk to head up the effort. Scott Ball is the project manager.

"If DeTonti continues to allow offices and businesses in every building then as your downtown comes up in prosperity and a new courthouse gets built, it will probably all go businesses and you should either go with that and let that happen or you should try to maintain some of the residential character. It's a decision that has to be made," said Ball.

A public hearing was held during this week's council meeting. Many residents were against it.

"We would like to see the plan amended so that the entire DeTonti is T4. Mixed use, which is very much like the zoning we've had to my knowledge since the early 60's, said Rennie Brabner.

Some residents like Melissa Rankin supported it, "That would create more residential growth. More energy, enthusiasm, excitement as a neighborhood. We would become the only walkable neighborhood to downtown Mobile."

Mobile's City attorney and the Mobile City Council say they're taking all concerns under consideration and will vote on the new code during March 25th's council meeting.

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