Reality Check: Downtown parking lot dispute

(img: WPMI)

Developers want it, neighbors don't. NBC15's Andrea Ramey explains why a passionate few are fighting back against a proposed parking lot in downtown Mobile.

"It's not allowed by code," said DeTonti Square resident Kelly Baker.

Baker and other neighbors have been vocal to city leaders about not wanting a surface parking lot next to their neighborhood. Construction on the St. Joseph Street lot began without a necessary permit from the city.

The city issued a stop work order when it became aware.

"My feeling on this was they were doing it without a permit because they knew it wasn't allowed," said Baker.

But the city says a parking lot there is allowed. At least on part of the lot.

"This lot was split into two different types of use. So one aspect of it was once used as a parking lot. Because of that, it can still be used as a parking lot in the future,“ said Laura Byrne with the City of Mobile.

Nearby DeTonti Square neighbors are disputing that and are now coming together to fight the project.

"Residents don't want to live surrounded by parking lots," said Jennifer English with the DeTonti Square Neighborhood Association.

With the lot in limbo, neighbors say they'll continue to fight for what's right for them, not developers.

"We need the planning department to do what they're supposed to do and uphold the code, and stop trying to figure out ways for developers to work around the code. And that's what they're doing," said Baker.

The Board of Zoning Adjustment meets at 2 p.m. Monday. A decision could be made then about the future of the lot.