The family owners of a well-known Midtown service station want to rezone a portion of the property, but neighbors in a nearby Old Dauphin Way neighborhood are fighting the application.
A Mobile Planning Commission vote to change a portion of the property from buffer commercial to a more intense zoning to match the rest of the Griffith Shell land was delayed until Thursday, May 16, but nearby residents took the opportunity at a Thursday, April 18 meeting to voice their concerns.
Gil Champion, whose property on South Georgia Avenue abuts the station, said when he and his wife, Bettie, drink coffee together on their back porch, all they see is overgrown vegetation and Budget trucks.
“We already see the big Budget trucks parked there,” he said. “The lot is overgrown with trees two, three or four inches in diameter touching our fence. We sit on our deck and see nothing but trucks and weeds.”
Champion said his home is one of the only residences within 300 feet of the Griffith’s property, so he was one of the only residents notified of the application. He said the Griffiths never offered to meet with the neighbors.
“They have not been very good neighbors to us,” Champion said.
Preston Griffith, the station’s co-owner, said the rezoning has come about as a result of a new contract with Shell for use of its gasoline. Previous agreements between Shell and the station had been between the gasoline company and Griffith’s father, but were not formal, he said. Under this new, more formal agreement, Griffith said Shell had asked the station to remove split zoning of the property.
“All we’re asking is for it to be zoned like the rest of the property,” he said. “We didn’t think it was a very big deal.”
The station has been in the family for more than 60 years, Griffith said, with his father originally purchasing it from a former employer. The property on the corner of Government and Ann streets has been a service station for almost 80 years, he said.
Currently, there are no plans to develop the property, Griffith said.
“We have no plans for future construction,” he said. “No commercial development has been discussed.”
Nevertheless, neighbors, like Champion, are concerned about more commercial development on the site, given the more intense zoning classification.
“We don’t want B-2, where they can do a whole bunch more stuff than B-1,” he said. “We’re a neighborhood. We don’t need something like that over our fence.”
Brett Orrell, of Polysurveying and a representative for the Griffiths, told commissioners the more intense zoning could allow a multi-tenant facility. However, he also said there are no plans to develop the land.
Griffith said he believes the station has been a good neighbor and a good corporate citizen.
“We cooperate with the city,” he said. “We’ve done everything they’ve asked us to do.”
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