MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — An amendment to the updated zoning laws in Mobile is on hold after citizens to Africatown raised concerns.
City officials began the process of revising Mobile’s zoning code several years ago, but they’ve hit another snag in the Unified Development Code plans. This time, in the form of an asked amendment from Africatown residents to make portions of the area a “safety zone”, as they feel the industrial industry is encroaching on their community.
The ‘Safety Zone’ amendment would essentially cover the entire perimeter of Africatown’s residential areas… This push into the residential areas is something those Africatown residents say is becoming a real issue for their health and well-being. One of those residents Joe Womack said, “If some industry wants to tell me why they don’t want to protect people then maybe I’ll agree with them, but I can’t be convinced of that right now.”
Another reason, tourism. Africatown, since the discovery of the Clotilda slave ship in the Mobile River, has been a part of many plans to bring tourism to the small community…But they feel the industrial businesses encroachment will hinder that potential. “We want something that rivals what’s going on in Montgomery. ” said Womack. “They have a billon dollar African American culture tourism business and we believe we can do that in Africatown but we have to have those businesses stay away from us.”
This safety zone would come as an amendment to the UDC which has been up for debate on multiple council agendas for years and is the most wide-ranging revision to Mobile’s zoning law in at least 50 years.
But activists remain concerned that the UDC does not go far enough.
But, it’s a difficult balance with billions of dollars a year generated through ports and industries in the area, if you start changing the dynamic it could have a large impact.
Which was their reasoning for pushing the vote of the adoption of the UDC for two weeks, so these conversations could be had. “We are close to some language that protects both the sovereignty of Africatown, but also has a good use for industry in the vicinity also, so that’s the approach. I don’t think anybody wants to stop heavy industry work, what people want to stop is the smothering of a community that’s been there since before the civil war,” said District 2 councilman William Carroll.