The Mobile Planning Commission voted 8-1 Thursday afternoon to deny a rezoning request which would’ve allowed for a steel warehouse to be built in the Plateau community.
Bob Collins, owner of Bean Industries, said he wanted the change in zoning from residential to heavy industrial to move his expanding business to a 17-acre lot at the southwest corner of Papermill Road and McKinley Street.
Collins’ business currently occupies a 55,000-square-foot facility at the state docks. He wanted the rezoning in order to build a 77,000-square-foot facility on the vacant lot.
“Luckily business is good and we need to expand,” he said.
Collins said the expansion would mean he could hire five to six new employees.
Opponents of the rezoning had many concerns, including the location’s proximity to the Africatown Historic District and the Mobile County Training School.
Collins told commissioners that the property had once been used for a parking lot for an International Paper Mill, but opponents disagreed.
“It has always been zoned residential,” Africatown native Joe Womack said. “If he’s saying IP used it as a parking lot for a long period of time, that’s not true.”
Attorney Karlos Finley described the lot as “green space” and highlighted the residents’ displeasure with allowing more industry into the community.
“It’s one of the few green spaces left in the Plateau community,” Finley said. “There’s a portion that appears to have been fenced off.”
Although Collins called the warehouse “clean,” Finley said the business would produce noise pollution for residents as close as 150 feet away.
“There are all types of pollution and noise is one of them,” Finley said. “There is going to be steel moved around in the middle of the night.”
The lot is also 66 yards from the school and “heavy trucks” would pose a danger for students, Finley said.
Also among the concerns of residents was the land’s proximity to a community garden. To alleviate some of the concerns, Collins said he would plant fruit trees along a 25-foot setback on his property.
Councilman Levon Manzie, who was one of eight commissioners to vote against the rezoning, said that all the residents in attendance at a community meeting earlier this week were against rezoning the property. He said he was grateful that the commission denied the request.