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Sophia's still awaiting ruling on zoning issue

JACKSON — Jackson officials are still working on a way to keep a popular restaurant open nearly a year after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled the city violated zoning laws by allowing it in a residential area.

The City Council in late July voted to approve new zoning rules designed to benefit Sophia’s, the restaurant inside the Fairview Inn Bed and Breakfast in the Belhaven neighborhood.

Daniel and Katherine Baker, the neighbors who have fought the zoning six years, said the city’s latest attempt is no better than the last.

“The Supreme Court is not going to be amused when this comes back up there,” Daniel Baker said. “The Supreme Court said it is wrong, (and) it is still wrong.”

The Bakers, both of whom are attorneys, live across from the Fairview Inn and were among two couples on the street to take their zoning dispute to the state’s highest legal authority.

Last year, the court decided in a 6-3 decision that the city resorted to illegal “spot zoning” to allow Sophia’s to operate.

The amendments passed in late July to zoning regulations create a citywide category for a historic house with a bed and breakfast and public restaurant. City planning director Corinne Fox said the Fairview is the only active business that benefits from the change, but it is not the only such property in the city.

Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon, who represents the Belhaven neighborhood, pushed the vote ahead.

“I think these (zoning amendments) are very important for the future of this city,” she said. “The Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau uses (the Fairview) all the time as a place to show off. I live several blocks away, and if I could pick it up tonight and move it next to me, I would.”

The Bakers said they have a right to live in a residential neighborhood without the encroachment of a large commercial establishment.


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