Saturday, May 8, 2010


Parish Administration has been urged, since 2006, to protect the safety of our children, require off-street loading areas at neighborhood restaurants, and replace the NO TRUCK ROUTE signs.

A recent zoning change on Corinne Drive allowed for the $325,000 purchase of an (R1) residentially-zoned lot to change to (C1) commercial. Such changes, when implemented properly, accommodate food service and beverage deliveries, providing a safe exit for drivers without use of residential streets.

Another zoning change application on Despaux Drive, for three residentially-zoned lots behind the corner seafood restaurant, should require the same improvements. These three lots are adjacent to and surrounded by restored homes in an established, revitalized neighborhood.
If the zoning change is approved, it will cause a decrease in property values. Added commercial and industrial traffic has already caused problems for the over two dozen children on this street and dozens more who live and play in the area. Creating such a traffic hazard increases the liability of the Parish and leaves these children without a safe neighborhood.

Originally acquired by Murphy Oil pursuant Turner v Murphy, the crude-oil-spill class action, the lots sold for $44,000, $53,040, and $94,560, respectively. The former court-ordered voluntary buyout option was intended to create a buffer.
The sales agreement price is now $10,000 per lot. The perspective buyer, representing Murphy Oil before the Planning and Zoning Commission, is a member of the Refinery CAP, serves as a Board Member on the Chamber of Commerce, and is the relative of the Chief of Police. Concerned Citizens received communications from residents who reported what they perceived to be harassment and intimidation tactics by this business owner, who allegedly approached residents with stern instructions to withdraw opposition to the zoning change or as they say there would be trouble.
Citizens have the right to active public participation without such threats. "Concerned Citizens" publicly recognize this is not a corporate level representation of the Murphy Oil Company. None the less, it will not be tolerated.

The St. Bernard Parish Council, nearly two years ago, agreed not to rezone any land owned by Murphy Oil in this neighborhood until Murphy Oil provided two things to the residents of St. Bernard: 1) its Master Plan for the current facility and 2) a written plan of their long-term intent for the former "buyout" area. Only than could residents fully participate in an informed discussion to consider changes around the existing greenspace or buffer.

At the Planning and Zoning Commission's Special Meeting this week, Murphy Oil's representative for this docket was questioned by the Planning Commissioners on the status of these plans.

The representative said he had called Murphy, just that day; they had a plan, but were tweaking it.

Residents wonder how food service buffers them from the petrochemical plant and what's next on the menu ?

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