TUESDAY September 24 2013 at 4pm in Council Chambers
""Over the past year the Parish Planning Commission and Council, with the support of the administration, have made changes to the Parish's zoning ordinance. The changes are designed to maintain and protect the residential features of our beloved neighborhoods."" SBPG website
The recent draft land use plan for St Bernard Parish proposes to maintain the existing empty lots as green space or a green belt around the nearby refinery. Land previously purchased by the oil company to create this green zone was later sold at a fraction of the cost. One of the residential-zoned R1 lots sold for $4,000 and is adjacent to a vacant corner lot on East Judge Perez Drive, which is currently zoned Neighborhood Commercial (C1) for the convenience of the neighborhood. Previously, a drug store was located at this corner and a family home on the R1 lot. Both lots now sit vacant.
This corridor of East Judge Perez currently allows for C1 Neighborhood Commercial zoning for up to 250 feet from the major thoroughfare and has worked well for many successful Neighborhood Commercial businesses. These businesses support the family oriented, pedestrian friendly neighborhood and are supported by the local residents. These two vacant lots should not be re-zoned; they should remain C1 Neighborhood Commercial to support the existing businesses and to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood.
There is a Planning Commission public hearing next week for a proposed zoning change for the two lots; to change both lots from R1 and C1, respectively, to C2 General Commercial. The reason for the zoning change in the application is for use as a mini warehouse or a mini storage facility. That type of use does not belong in this corridor.
C2 General Commercial can bring lots of different uses with a variety of traffic and other nuisances.
The online Municode Library for St Bernard Parish Chapter 22 Zoning in September 2013 lists several allowable land uses in C1 and C2 zoning. Some of those uses are copied here. In the online listing, mini storage or mini warehouses are allowed in C1, so there would be no need to change the zoning on the corner lot. Mini warehouses are also allowed in C2 along with automotive sales and car care, as well as truck stops, multi-family dwellings, wholesale establishments and public garages. Wholesale distribution is not allowed in C2.
The site plan brings lots of added traffic to a narrow residential street with little room for truck turnaround or even dumpster service. No amount of landscaping nor building facades will mitigate an added commercial traffic pattern. There is no traffic study and no further indication of what type of items would be stored or what type of transient hours of operation.
The current plan to develop the major thoroughfare, Judge Perez, as neighborhood commercial should be upheld. There is no reason to change the area to C2 General Commercial. There are ample commercial and industrial properties in St Bernard Parish that would accommodate mini warehouses and the associated commercial traffic.
The Planning Commissioners and Parish Council should keep to the code and not make this spot zoning change.