Friday, September 14, 2007

Of open space, spot zoning, national parks … and Fat Mama’s Tamales …

    A parcel designated as “Open Land” in Natchez, Miss., has been used as a paved parking lot.  This says a lot about the nation’s “open space” laws.  But the lot may soon become the new home to Fat Mama’s Tamales, thanks to a Mississippi court opinion that upheld this week a city decision to rezone the land.  (Adams v. Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the City of Natchez, No. 2006-CC-00699 (Miss. Ct. App. Sept. 11, 2007)).

Tamales   Fat Mama’s had to move from its previous location when the federal government took the land by eminent domain for a national historical park facility.  Neighbors of the “open land” complained that the decision to re-zone for business constituted “spot zoning.”  But the appellate court concluded that spot-zoning violations typically are found only when zoning is done “to favor” someone (and no evidence of that here, of course).  The court upheld the change, concluding that the re-zoning would not be “out of harmony” with the area, which already holds a number of businesses.  So let’s shed a tear for the loss of one more “open space” in the United States, and let’s order a pitcher of margaritas …

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