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Zoning conflict with new Probation and Parole office
PENSACOLA A Pensacola probation and parole office is moving into the Coca Cola Bottling Plant on Palafox Street. That means roughly 3,200 offenders will funnel through the North Hill neighborhood a month. The Department of Corrections filed paperwork with the city to move into the new building last fall, but at least one city councilman believes the city possibly made a mistake based on current zoning districts. The old coca cola plant in Pensacola is being renovated for it to become the new probation and parole office. It's moving because its lease is about up at its current location. Moving to the Palafox location will save the state around 33-thousand dollars in its first year. Those savings will grow over time. But savings aren't enough to appease nearby residents. "Why isn't there zoning to prevent this kind of thing? This is a state facility, it was sold to the state, why would they do this to us" said Sherry Schnieder, North Hill Resident. State law requires a public hearing before a correctional facility is built. Residents say this never happened. "I think that's wrong, this sort of facility should be in a non-residential neighborhood" said Schnieder. The city issued a building permit to begin renovations to the old coke plant in January. Councilman Charles Bare says the city made a mistake in the permitting process. "There's going to be a loser in this, maybe multiple in this situation" said Charles Bare, Pensacola City Councilman. Pensacola's land development code has the coke plant in a C-3 commercial zone, which allows wholesale and limited industry. Community correctional centers are found in M-1 zones, which are light industrial districts. "If it's a community correctional center and they didn't have a public hearing, we've got a problem. The other issue, if we allowed it in a zone where its not permitted, we also have a problem" said Bare. So what's left for residents opposing the move? "They may have to go to the zoning board of adjustments to challenge it, or it may ultimately end up in court" said Bare. The probation offices lease is set to begin at the new building April 1st, leaving the city less than 30 days to get the zoning issue worked out.