WWL>Topics>>6-4 3:10pm Angela: on the new zoning ordinance

6-4 3:10pm Angela: on the new zoning ordinance

Jun 4, 2015|

Angela talks with Lisa Suarez of the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association, Andrew Jacoby of the Faubourg Marigny Neighborhood Association, Wanda Findley of the Bywater Neighborhood Association, and Den of Muses owner Ray Kern about the new zoning ordinance for the city of New Orleans.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well the City Council passed a new comprehensive zoning ordinance two weeks ago the first overhaul of our zoning and almost forty years. It took years of planning by residents and the planning commission and ultimately seven hours to pass the City Council. But not everyone is happy with that outcome. A lawsuit has been filed by the Farber Mary any improvement association. It's all about the height variances. Now allowed along the river. Here to talk about their lawsuit and why they're upset with the final vote of Assisi you know is Lisa Suarez. President of the father marinate improvement association. Rate current. Co owner and manager of the din of uses which is in the fiber there and that's correct Rhonda Finley will be joining us very shortly she is a property owner and she's a member of the body of water. Neighborhood association. And Andrew Jacoby Andy Jacoby is an attorney for the Auburn marinate a neighborhood association. Let me say when I first and she is here thank you Rhonda you're here. When I first heard about this lawsuit the first in the came to mind wise I was confused because. We've done so many programs with the riverfront alliance and with by waters senator about the many concerns they had I'm talking about over the last six months. And I always thought that the marry me had been removed. From the issue of the height variances on the buildings but it was pretty much the quarter of them the by water. And I was and what he called another poll across but that merit it was an all of a sudden. Now you all are the ones that are filing. The brief actually week. In against this since on riverfront vision 2005. Which was incorporated into some of the ideas of the master plan which the proper name is that. Planned for the 21 century and what happened was that we expected to be included in the kiwis parts of the reference an overly all along said we have been objecting to all along and what was said was that. On Weaver causing problems that they reviewed removed as that they would take another look at it so win. The mayor specifically added he is amendments back in. Then we were included as well as conditional use was renewed so I'd like Andy to talk to that help particular aspect of the amendment because he wants to explain what the basis of this blog is so. Just for our general listener ship. You all are basically on happy that there is a variants. Going to be allowed along the riverfront that because of this overly that is but it is more called height bonuses and height density bonuses okay and it goes against the historic character of the neighborhood okay but so Andy. What is what is the lawsuit. The the lawsuit we essentially are alleging. Two different. Bases. And the first one is a procedural and that's to say that that the city did not go through all of the necessary procedures in order to pass. The city ordinance. And let me just interrupt for a minute this is a similar thing that holy cross had to sealant that they. A developer had a plan and they went through the process but it wasn't. Complete as far as what was that what holy cross the neighbors were going to be subjected to on sorry okay that's okay. That's okay. And and you had mentioned Angela that there have been plenty of of build up and lead opened. On public input and the process but the very important part in the basis of the procedural. Aspect of our lawsuit is that. The city planning commission is required to issue a recommendation. And after and they did that in September but subsequent to that. Their word changes made last minute changes to an in the form of Merrill amendments and amendments that came through City Council members and those last minute amendments. Were made strong severe changes to the the comprehensive planning ordinance they introduce some drastic changes specifically into the mayor any. And and that the Putnam Ernie residents never had an adequate opportunity to make public comments on that when we'll talk about when you talk about last minute you're talking about the day of the vote. I'm actually talking about the last minute they're very broadly there were last minute in the sense of the date for the vote. But also anything after September mid September when the planning commission issued its recommendation. Everything on that came that took place after that. Would not have been in the referral process and the city the City Council is required to refer to the planning commission for their kind of learned review from the any amendments that are proposed and then that also incorporates the us very special and very specific public participation process. And when and that just didn't happen and that did not happen that's OK so you're doing and on procedural and then you're doing and on why that the second is a substantive challenge. And the substance and challenges that. That this city has already bound itself to follow the master plan. And what you have here is what what was essentially a base owning that was for the most part it it fit well in this historic use area. And ended up having was a very high density high intensity variance is one way of putting it alternative zoning that was. Forced down on to the community at the last second and that that's akin to use a central business district in terms of height and density. So what you have or are central visit central business district zoning. Forced down to the bear any and that in a way that's inconsistent with the master plan. Right now what is the level that is not acceptable. Well we've always had fifty foot height limits that they Mary Ann in by water although. On some one of the neighborhood associations and by water will argue that there zoning is for 75 feet the we've always contended that specifically released to the late industrial zoning that exists now all of that is being changed to mix he sign it this is. He is earning speak which has been one of the big problems. That it's been sued dragged out the process that. People have actually been divorced from the process we have not repeat had a lot of engagement is people it's not sexy is like us that's donning stuff again. So that's been one of the most difficult things but. Un and art and mobile though this variance allow 75 well actually at this point it will allow eighty feet which is more than in the warehouse district. Which is protected by LaToya Cantrell at 65 feet. And we're not that close to that to the CD's we're fastest it is silly it really is pretty egregious. We're gonna take a quick break we're going to come back we're gonna continue this conversation please be part of it. Whether you're living in that area or you even have thoughts on their concerns. To 601870. We'll take a break we'll be right back please join us on Angela under the W well. Well as you know the City Council passed. A young new comprehensive zoning ordinance really looking at and refreshing our zoning. The have been a mishmash for decades. But not again everyone is happy because. Certain neighborhoods are very concerned that this new zoning ordinance and how it has been passed. Will change really the character of the neighborhoods and so it has been the parenting. Former mayor neither has filed the lawsuit. But other neighborhoods are also concerned I'm gonna go back toward turning them we're gonna bring Ronde Iranian. Bottom line what you hope to achieve with this lawsuit. The first thing we hope to achieve is to get the worst of the amendments. Kicked back to the review process both by the planning commission and then the inherent public participation process. We feel that that's a strong form for us to to bring our concerns but the second is that we want to block any of the of the new and worst of the zoning amendments from taking effect and those would be the zone and amendments that would be in contrast to what is otherwise a great master plan. And those are the standards the master plan standards are what protect the heritage of the of the mayor and he and really that's that the key. Heritage one of the key key neighborhoods of the city and so we we wanna protect those worst amendments from taking effect. And I think it's important to point out that on when NAFTA and was initiated it was worked on by more than 5000 citizens after Katrina. And there are a lot of controls. To preserve historic character including height density other quality of life issues and not just Mary and water. But every historic district in the city so you know I guess the question is. Can we have change and progress. At that look at. And still achieved keeping the neighborhoods. With the character and the richness that they. And I think kinds of course we have been behind specific developmental. Projects on in particular to see Peter in Saint Paul church complex which we advocated to be turned into a boutique type hotel. On there's a building also in Frenchman street it was on boys town also advocated and did get pushed back. On in bed with instances because you know we had a huge short term rental problems that we want some hotels that they have to. Hit the character. And we've been advocating for a lot of on increased density which we said okay we have increased as he would not argue that point when you can't increased density along with eighty foot buildings it's just completely. And I know Rhonda wants to talk about. Well. Thank you resent. I wanna say first of all. I'm when a command that leadership of the folk or marry any improvement association their regular citizens their volunteers. Are no paid people. And that neighborhood association. And they have put themselves out there. To hopefully start the ball rolling that other neighborhoods can. Understand what's happening last week I think it's very important to point out that the Louisiana landmarks society. Brought out their yearly list of the most endangered. Historic sites and the city and that riverfront in New Orleans was named one of that. One of that area's historic areas that is an eminent Dane. Let me ask you is people are envisioning. Now we're going to have these towering buildings along the riverfront. With condos senator senator up but. That they would still be limited to eight floors of if eighty feet. Well I mean first of all I I'm Nicky going all that I'm very. I learned that I'm trying to learn that if you say a ten foot floor is a characteristic. Of a new Moore island structure. And that doesn't actually pencil out either for the developers so let's just say eighty feet I mean your floors can be. Ten feet eight at C I don't know you know but I'll just say that to kind of give you a visual equivalent of that Christopher and houses a lot of nice people at the structures at a scale out a character that's at the that a Frenchman streets of anybody's ever gone down and enjoy it. Music and the feeds you know Frenchman street you might well noticed that just doesn't belong if you look at. And it take you to mid city to the fall staff building I think it's great repurchasing about building. And they've left incinerator stack as sort of architectural detail there. And that would be something that we're talking about the 75. It's industrial zoning and the reason I'm bringing. But points app into one is that it's hard to explain to people because they say what's the big deal a little high a little bit as the little that. That we have a historic city it's our city. We didn't elect our officials are City Council people. And our mayor to comment and recreate eats the historic character of New Orleans the week. Want to maintain that. Her pursue an of the master plan that saves neighborhood character and we did not elect them to just do what they. Do you think the City Council in voting for this just in essence said we're not gonna pay attention to the master plan it's not just that it's Dayton on the year Ernie is being. Particularly abused because we've been very vocal for many many years since 1972 you insist Christopher in went up. Right next Washington Square Park it's payback time you know there was. Years and years that being worked hand in hand Eugene says it two main month professor preservation architecture worked hand in hand he's a founder. On with the city on structure as is with city planning commission. And it was a friendly and fruitful arrangement but now since they figure how we handle these privileges for all these years now weird step child and we get left out process. Now back in on the pulpit neighbor had participation. It's part of the master plan I think it's chapter fourteen. It's. It I'm speaking to every one if you live by Ottoman park if you live in mid city if you live in lake view. The master plan ensures that you as a citizen. How meaningful seat at that table is six as a captive but correct because I can't keep working this is a fourteen is ready to porcelain but again so. Thank you resent. Keep minster that what I want to preach acts and I'm glad to have a dialogue with anybody as hard as as our voices being taken away. That eight neighborhoods that put together a reasonable plan. To keep historic character intact along the riverfront and the downriver neighborhoods. Work not even considered it a viable plan Colin Lockett planned but it protects the height and actually get a little extra night it went about a little bit about fifteen we Philip figured that in certain spots that was the year considering the amount of under used land that does exist especially in byline of course there's plenty of lots. In near any especially considering the enhancement corridors which is any street with a neutral ground. Will now be able to do at a scale okay so yes. So this play and put together by citizens and volunteers. Was delivered every single City Council member. And know when. Energy is Stan. They didn't need an energy set and vote no across the board. They only energies what mayor Landrieu has decided is appropriate for our city. Eat the economy is apparently good right now so. Right now they're throwing historic preservation out the window they're sort of plucking the feathers of the golden days. At a scale. Out of character development does not protect your historic areas and. I I I had coffee with 2 ladies this morning. They're like appalled. They say why are they do you miss. Just trying to be hysterical here now I'm just telling you everyone out there listening. Your voice is being eroded. This council and this mayor is not they're saying you had your say so. But. It doesn't matter we don't care we're gonna do what we wanna do and it's only going to give that act benefit at certain few people it is inappropriate. Our historic character is in danger and one final thing with our attorney here Andy. The goal of this is to stop it. Do you then think other. Neighborhoods will go forward with their unhappiness with certain sections of the studio. I think it's an entirely possible that some other neighborhood organizations and individuals as well wolf will jump into the fray. I think that what that think once everybody sees that once everybody sees that they've cut skin in the game that they're going to want to make sure that step in and have their operates asserted. On the the goal is is really it's not to undo the master plan which is a good document. That is that that's progressive document that ensures that you have the heritage of the city in harmony with development. And and that's important it is this development going to happen it just needs to be in harm's it's essential. Right and and and that's what and that's why you see out the preservationists are now lining up and that's why this neighborhood organization has taken the stand is because. I'm the this this is a good thing that we've got that the heritage of New Orleans we've inherited from our from our forefathers is something that we we ought to protect we have a duty to protect it. And when we eat polar protect that we protect what's really great about the city. And what were not trying to do is stop all development that we want say that. Certain amendments when they violate the master plan when there are income growth with the master plan and interfere with the master plan. Then we're gonna take a step and protect our own neighborhoods and it would be great some of these other organizations. And and Stacy said we're a nation of laws and this is about the law in its also kinda dated a lifetime thing. He you know they tell you can't fight city hall and so here we are a little dated China but really beat down the stuff it's wrong. We're gonna have to take a break and go to the newsroom but please stay with this we are not done and 2601870. If you have any thoughts on this we'll be right back on Angela. Under the that you will. I guess the question really is as this group sitting here has been saying the last segment does it bother you. That we would have high rises along the river. You know higher than what has been allowed in the past. The new CEO was going to allow it in neighborhoods like the marinate like the vial water. Eighty feet eighty feet which is you know again we can nickel and dime ourselves but let's say it's eight stores that's very different tomorrow we have. And not avid at all on the river front right now do not in the day well talented we have uptown with the two main towers now of course via the CBD in an easy ride and world trade at Hilton on and and people but that create development. Right but not along the river for. One after another week but I think that the image is. Oh my gosh could we be a Miami and I don't mean you know forty Storey buildings but a Miami Beach that's that's not what's gonna happen here. But it is going to be different. And what you Lawler saying it's going to impact neighborhoods and take away the very thing that made them special but it's not just that Angeles instead of being transparent government we get plans. Require hundreds of islands near the river unity you know the one that didn't. On the river what would happen if the cracks when their mother pile driving pylons 150 feet. I'm gonna talk to. Raise your right as he designs they turn you are you you have this business and the mayor earning. But you are as he was just telling me an analyst. And this man has this easy hill and read the master plan right off the bat you get a double A plus. Yeah unbelievable. The my teacher's always like me. So so what what are your concerns. There's a lot of foresaw. A guy at. The business owners. We bought it with two other business partisan 1996 before the married became hot spot for now. It's actually kind of a Dicey place at the time. But we persevered and when we have first. Tried to open up yet to do I wanted to turn into as a as a warehouse a former sheet metal factory. And I wanted to turn into place racquet have communities as you know maybe some live shows and and theater and you know Portuguese whatever they have found out quickly from the neighborhood association. That I was not zone to do that. And then my first question was what is zoning. That's how little I knew. But then I I started paying attention and realize that okay and I tried to do something that would be okay with what I was committed to do I follow the law. As it existed pay play by the rules. And then as the kind of as a consequence economy evolves into. Saying a giant art studio is like a lot of art related things going on lots of fun things. Some Mardi Gras related some you know support for the local film in the street independent productions and things like that. But it's been very low key try to keep them minimal impact not disturb my neighbors 'cause it's at surrounded by residences all around me so. Yes I'm not gonna do anything late night because I respect the neighborhood. And as a consequence to you know they they they like me because I don't care they're they're just different to your living space. When you read the cesium when you read the master plan well he came away with something yeah I did sides a headache. For. I first started reading got involved in 2012 when it was a development of this propose a two foot of we should feels indicator of the delusional loss development it was like 75 feet tall. And was a slight. Monstrosity of a modern architectural. It looked like it was getting the neighbor had the finger it was a good yeah it was ugly and it's horrible and we thought that barely got to you know to you know disapproved. But that was my first involvement maintenance and send another phone out there having these you know meetings with the news city planning commission Republican and Clinton. That's when I first came around with the height bonuses and density bonuses 75 feet or less the same height. That was this other building now they wanna make it part of a whole ordinance now a source of McCain where's this coming from. You know certainly isn't from the neighborhoods seaweed and asked us. And so for black and gather as seems to be it being they're listening to a few developers at the expense of many. It's gonna benefit them incredibly financially you know allies but it's gonna you know really ruined. Would have historic character we have police and my opinion. Now when I read to seize you know I went through it we went through the public meeting with all of a policy planning commissions and make comments one thought was appropriate. And and I listened to everyone else and and and the comments that people submitted to the city planning commission form within four cases are they I don't went through two years of public comments. And discovered that you know large majority of people a figure 90% from the math. We're opposed to the height density bonuses that were being house. So. Your whole experience coupled with. Reviewing two years of other people's comments yeah 98% roughly of people are against it and yet they just don't listen anomaly that. When I was at the C planning commission who is you know people standing up the front of a microphone and being videotaped these these racial without tender one. You know gangsta height and the few people were four. So I see this and then I wonder wise is still in here. You know it's a question I was asked myself and it and to be you get the CPC city playing division and credit. They did listen to a point to actually took away the five gateways originally proposed that allow for a heightened density and two blocks into the interior neighborhood and then they cut it back down eventually to the last draft in September 2014 to where is just not Parcells and Iowa. That I wore a gateway upon as a gateway that would allow for the height density bonuses. Now and then at the last minute you know you know than within a month before the final vote of the season of the mayor comes in. And just says okay we're gonna make the entire riverfront and overlay. That is subject to height density bonuses. And besides that before we had conditional Houston and we always say condition he has that was great because even if this thing passed we still have some input is saying okay. You have to go through a neighborhood participation process which is something that master planned kind of likes to have he need a neighborhood input. Okay what would the mayor amendment did was take way too conditional use which is always has been there and I was just permitted to go fort. You know I'm all in rally they wanted that was to me is outrageous. On that note we're gonna have to take another break but stay with this 260187. Date give us your thoughts we'll be right back. The father marry any improvement association has filed a lawsuit against the city in the City Council. Trying to say we're gonna fight for our neighborhood. The new CEO which is going to allow for higher buildings then. Everyone in their area or most everyone in their area wants to see remain the existing button. I keep wanting to say this over and over again. You are not against progress now you are not against change now you're against this particular kind. We're tall buildings eight stories high will block the view of the river. From the majority of them. Aybar and as a vertical intrusion it changes the character of the deeper Medicaid makes a decoration. Around there they're high rises which the City Council says he can't call them high rises because they're mid rises but the fact is that when you compare them to the existing buildings which most of the peaks of our reefs are really between 25 and thirty feet other buildings here and advocate 44 and fifty. In general we don't wanna be just decoration around these tall buildings and we take. Boosted and this is off the river front for the people who would leave on top floors of these things we potentially. And I. I'd learn different Sheen says here and one ST in the historic preservation as he's the man in this city and around the world he's the man. He points out that vertical intrusion in our horizontal neighborhood police agents describe. We'll eliminate the opportunity. For. Neighborhoods in your talents to peak NASCAR world here and for nuance Kennedy Eunice a world heritage sink. Of which there you have the chance. Safety and occasionally it's sixty feet to really maintain our historic integrity. But the city really doesn't hear anything. We have to say I mean ms. Ramsey our represented a gift to succeed she didn't care about her neighbor achievement here about quality of life issues like the mega bus that was Vista is to the bus station where neighbors have to scramble people keen in the front yard and leaving all kinds of stuff all over the place and sleeping girl for ninth place to park. I mean it's these quality of life issues which. Are not getting there they're do you force actor says it has just. Ended up being on we really had any say all they care what we say the mayor said specifically that will just because you had your citizen participation doesn't mean again which you. And I just gonna point out that citizens are and and you know some people might say. Were you ruling and were switching about these things that you know we should be just grateful. I'm very grateful that I live in your talents I'm grateful for my neighbors wouldn't be fighting like this if I didn't love Emma and I wanna point out that citizens spent. Extra hours personal time commenting like rape pointed out it's not like it's is even a 5050. Argument here this is. Really truly what the majority of neighbors wine but that creep we've created an atmosphere City Council and the mayor's office created an atmosphere. That we'll listen to you. But we're not going to do you wait you asking your neighborhood because we seem to know better citizens engaged with the expectation of meaningful and it. On maintaining the character of the neighborhoods and particular. Holy cross by water Mary any and the quarter. And it. The input should not be disregarded. It's what the master plan and the thoughtful people that helped create a master plan Lisa pointed out 5000. Citizens. And the middle of cleaning up their flooded hounds and trying to get back come participated in this process and to be left Alex. Left out of the dialogue we're not even talking about a compromise where. The neighbor right get a little online we're talking about egregious. Violations of our civil rights here I believe it's it's that it's that voter disenfranchisement. Now I have to take another break stay with us we'll be right back. We are back I just one final thought from our friend right. Thank you Angela first saw like to thank the ladies next to me that we speak. Let them speak for us that I got the last word gay. Okay a little to city in the people who say this is a good thing the city is going to be the benefits and August say you know there is it's like a dog poop on your on you know don't let these dogs development. You know pull open up front on to say they are doing us a favor by fertilize it. You're going to court will stay in touch with you will see how this there's I thank each and every one of you for joining us and hitting and Angela and enjoy your day everybody. We'll be back tomorrow hope you'll join us then.