Local historic community raises concerns about new code

Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - After years in the making, Mobile city leaders have passed some new zoning regulations. However, some people who live in the historic community of Sandtown are concerned about what this means for them.

Sandtown is the oldest African American neighborhood in the Springhill area. After the Mobile City Council passed some new zoning and development regulations yesterday, there’s a historic marker recognizing Sandtown.

Established before 1845, Sandtown was built by former slaves. In fact, many of its current residents are descendants of the original founders.

Long-time resident Earl Safford believes in the importance of preserving the community.

“We need to keep it open so that people can see what we are doing. We are only trying to make it better, not only for ourselves because we live here but for the world to see,” Safford said.

Others, like Rosa Mckoy, attend church at Mount Hebron in Sandtown. Mckoy worries that new regulations will allow businesses to take over the area.

“Therefore, to be able to reserve it and remember the blessings that God has left here for generations to come, then I believe that we ought to preserve our history and thank God for each and everyone that will be coming behind us.”

In response, Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson says the new regulations are a good thing, but protecting Sandtown is also important.

“It’s a giant step forward, while at the same time protecting the environment that we have, protecting our communities, and protecting our culture.”

The new regulations are part of what is known as the Unified Development Code. Just last month, the Mobile City Council granted Africatown a safe zone amendment to the new code. The amendment says that gas and oil storage won’t be allowed near most residential areas in the community.

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