Neighbors say school's expansion violates neighborhood covenant - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Neighbors say school's expansion violates neighborhood covenant

(WMC-TV) - Some residents in the Grove Park Cove area just off Walnut Grove said Wednesday they are unhappy with St. Mary's Episcopal School as it expands into the residential area.

Grove Park residents held up signs that read, "St. Mary's Episcopal School is not a good neighbor."

"We don't have any ill will against St. Mary's, no more than I think they have against us," said Grove Park resident Billy Douglas.

Douglas and other residents said the neighborhood is being disturbed as the all girls private school expands its campus.

"I think it's just a difference in what people want to use a piece of property for," said Douglas.

Douglas said the neighborhood covenant was established in 1940 to allow only residential use of the neighboring properties.  He said cutting down trees and purchasing vacant lots for institutional purposes is not a neighborly thing to do.

"It hurts our cove," he said.  "Our cove is quiet.  It's a peaceful place to live without much traffic, and they are taking over part of it."

In a statement, head of St. Mary's Marlene Shaw wrote, "Over the past year, St. Mary's has explained to its neighbors and their representatives that the school plans to use the site as an additional green space for its students.  Preparation of the site for that purpose is currently underway."

Josh Whitehead with the Planning and Development Department with Memphis and Shelby County said that the neighborhood covenant is a privately enforced restriction between neighbors.

Grove Park residents said they have hired lawyers.

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