While city zoning is not, as the saying goes, either fun or "sexy," it does determine the fabric of our neighborhoods, the value of our properties, and the nuisance-free lives we all wish for our families. Mobile is a city in which leadership demonstrates that they expect residents to make their wishes known regarding any development that is proposed. When there is no neighborhood response, the city's position almost always reverts to approval, regardless of the circumstances. While this unnecessarily places the burden on citizen volunteers to do their own research, keep up with all the potential zoning applications and approval meetings, and organize opposition for negative developments, it is a fact of life in our area.
There are currently several zoning issues on the table. In addition, we in midtown - and certain neighborhoods under flight patterns - are already experiencing the nuisance of loud and increasingly more frequent jet engines roaring overhead. Some downtown neighborhoods are threatened by expanded entertainment districts in areas where the noise ordinances are not enforced effectively.
Petty, even major, crime seems to be on the increase.
Complaints about these and other residential issues are often met with a roll of the eyes, as though a resident who has invested a majority of their personal funds and sweat equity in a permanent home are simply being petty, picky, or in opposition to "progress."
This attitude ignores the very real issues of residential property values and homeowner rights, and further ignores the fact that the downtown development heating up is doing so ONLY because the residents came FIRST.
Many of us bought in areas no developer would touch at the time and then recovered, renovated, and nenewed whole neighborhoods with personal funds and sweat. In that process, homeowners raised property values and improved whole streets, creating more upscale areas which then offer developers a real return on their investment dollars.
An urban area without the lively activity of daily life will not support commerce, and it will pay the city leaders to remember that fact. A brief look at the recent history of midtown/downtown from the 1960s to the last decade is proof of this fact, but some of the eye-rollers were not around to observe what others of us who were urban frontiersmen lived through.
1. NEW ZONING ORDINANCE, UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT CODE - UDC - The new zoning ordinance public input period closed on April 8. NEW ZONING ORDINANCE, UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT CODE - UDC - The new zoning ordinance public input period closed on April 8. A revised version (V.3) will be released and will be followed by another 30 day public comment period, then revised again before going to the Planning Commission for public hearing next, date TBA. Interested residents will be able to attend the Planning Commission public hearing and give input to the Commission.
The outline of tentative dates or milestones from Build Mobile are:
April 8, 2019 – Informal comment period ended (extended)
May 31, 2019 - Public review of Draft Version 3 (30 days). It will contain: Staff review of comments and map Public comment report prepared Tracked comparison of changes
July TBD – Mobile Planning Commission Consideration Draft Version 4
August TBD – Mobile City Council Consideration
**Please note exact dates are subject to change.
2. CHURCH STREET AT EVERETT APARTMENTS - A developer, Mr. Jerry Jackson, has purchased the apartments at the corner of Church Street and Everett, with plans to renovate for a 10-studio-unit, short term (6 month) rental offered for what Mr. Jackson described as "temporary workers" in the area. Mr. Jackson met with Leinkauf residents at a community meeting and later met again with Board members. The Board presented him with some research indicating he could rework his plan for 5 larger, longer term units and realize a greater monthly profit and a more stable development for our neighborhood. Mr. Jackson stated he would look at that option.
3. EMERGENCY SHELTER 1805 GOVERNMENT ST - Work has begun again on the building at 1805 Government Street across from Memorial Park, and the owners, in conversation with neighbors, have stated their intent to pursue a short-term emergency shelter for women clients. Certain emergency shelters (such as Penelope House) are granted "by right" with no public input or appeal process. However, the development must meet the definition and criteria for an emergency shelter and can be monitored for compliance. In this case, neighbors will be certain to monitor the operation closely and engage city agencies involved to as well.
4. GRIFFITH SHELL PROPERTY AT GOVERNMENT AND ANN STREET - Griffith Shell on Government St at Ann has applied for their 3 lots be combined under a single B2 zoning. Some of the parcels are currently zoned B1 "Buffer," which is a lower intensity. Upzoning to B2 is counter to the goals of surrounding historic districts to maintain the residential character of Government Street from Broad to Pinehill where it borders Mobile's historic districts. The decision on the application was held over to the May commission meeting.
5. BROAD STREET LIVE OAKS, TIGER GRANT - Area residents who appealed the removal of live oak trees on Broad Street for the Tiger Grant project have continued to work with the city in efforts to save more of the oaks planned for removal. Though the Council denied the citizen appeal, they and the administration offered some concessions, including: A. The city agreed to place Live Oaks on the replacement tree list so that some replanting of removed live oaks can occur; B. Five oaks targeted for removal will be left in place; C. The City Council agreed to form a citizen panel to be informed of upcoming projects involving tree removals and given the chance to offer input; D. Citizen volunteers have walked the Broad Street project and identified the requests to be submitted to the city with emphasis on: 1. major intersections which can support additional oaks; 2. designated parking spaces which can be swapped for oaks; 3. other targeted oaks which can possibly be retained or other trees which will be replaced by oaks instead of other tree selections. When the final report is submitted to the city, it will be published for the public at the same time.