FLORENCE, Ala. — It’s been more than two months since the nonprofit Room at the Table Shoals was denied a certificate of occupancy for a vacant building on Wood Avenue in the Seven Points district in Florence.
The reason? The zoning department says the nonprofit applied to be an event center but according to city zoning codes, feeding people from 5 to 7 each night does not fit under the classification of an event center.
Florence Mayor Steve holt told WHNT News 19 in December that Room at the Table hadn’t taken proper steps before leasing the building. “My concern is that we had little or no communication with them; they jumped into it as an organization,” said the mayor. “They had a six-month lease with First Presbyterian Church—we should’ve been talking about this weeks and months ago.”
Room at the Table challenged the zoning department’s decision, but the board denied the certificate of occupancy again at an appeal hearing in January.
Room at the Table has now officially filed a lawsuit against the city over the issue saying that serving the community a daily meal is permitted under one or more categories of permitted uses under the zoning rules. The lawsuit adds that Room at the Table maintains that the activities it wishes to pursue at the Wood Avenue location do comply with and fall squarely within the city’s zoning ordinance.
WHNT News 19 reached out to the city about the lawsuit, however, attorneys have not allowed officials to comment at this time.