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Residents argue against convenience store plan

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 5, 1998

LAPLACE – Over 50 residents of West 5th Street in LaPlace came to the meeting of the St. John the Baptist Council Tuesday night to argue againstthe building of a convenience store in their neighborhood.

An ordinance was introduced at the meeting to rezone the property of the late Paul Bartholomew Jr. from residential to commercial. According toSt. John Parish Planning Director Laurette Thymes, Bartholomew’s son,Eldridge Bartholomew Sr., has filed an application listing a conveniencestore as the proposed use for the property, which is currently vacant.

But residents of the area argued against the rezoning, saying the convenience store would create problems in the area such as traffic and crime.

“It is going to create accidents and put automobiles into people’s houses who live on 5th Street,” Gene Powell, whose mother lives on West 5th Street, said.

Lucien Gauff agreed with Powell that the store would bring in more crime, traffic and noise.

“I bought into a residential area and hoped it would stay that way,” Gauff said. “Let’s keep it residential, keep it safe and keep it quiet.”Council member Clinton Perrilloux asked the council to postpone the ordinance to the first meeting in September and later amended the motion to move it to the Aug. 25 meeting when he learned the September meetingwould be in Edgard and inconvenience some of the residents who wanted to discuss the issue. But many of the residents wanted the issue decidedTuesday.

“Let’s air this out and get it over with,” Joseph Weber of West 5th Street said. “Let’s get it over with one way or another, but we are 100 percentagainst it.”Perrilloux explained that he asked for the postponement so he could meet with the parish’s legal counsel and other residents who had called saying they were either for or against it. Legal counselor Charles Lorio said heand the zoning consultant needed time to review a similar case so they can advise the council.

Councilman Joel McTopy said he was against the postponement, saying the council should follow the will of the people.

“Woe be it when we have 40 to 50 people here to give direction and we go against that,” McTopy said.

“Legal counsel explained why it should be postponed to the public,” Councilman Dale Wolfe said. “Two weeks is not going to hurt. This is not astalling method. Two weeks from now we will show we are for the people.All we are asking for is two weeks. If we can’t respect legal counsel, wedo not need legal counsel or any of our other counselors.

“I understand the people want to resolve it tonight,” Wolfe continued. “IfLorio had not recommended the delay, I would have been willing to send the people home happy tonight. In only two weeks, we will take care of thematter.”

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