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Daycare center issue not settled

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / August 17, 1998

LAPLACE – For residents along West Fifth Street, LaPlace, the St. JohnParish Council meeting was a victory of sorts. However, the quest toestablish a new daycare center is not yet over.

Geri Broussard Baloney and Betty Zeno Franklin have been working for months to get a new daycare center established at 640 West Fifth St., butthe property had to be first rezoned commercial.

That got neighbors in an uproar since had fought long and hard to block any further commercial development in the area. The issue, as opponentsdeclared, was not to the idea of a daycare center but to the commercial spot-zoning.

As an alternative idea, the developers applied for a special-use permit, mandating that when the commercial use of the property ended, the zoning would revert to residential. However, there is no special-use permitprovision in the parish’s zoning ordinance.

Instead, the Parish Council scheduled a workshop, set Monday at 6 p.m. atthe Parish Council chambers, to develop such a provision and then consider the daycare center under that new provision at its Aug. 25 meeting.Isaiah Jones suggested a daycare center is actually a residential use, since the children “live” at the center for a period of time each day. “Thisshould enhance the value of the property,” he said.

Baloney emphasized, “The impact should be minimal.”Parish Councilman Nickie Monica moved to deny the rezoning application, seconded by Ranney Wilson, and promised to help develop a special-use permit in place.

“We are creating a special-use permit for one section of town, and it will come back to haunt us,” Parish Councilman Joel McTopy warned, adding the Parish Council would not do any such thing in a more affluent neighborhood.

“The people don’t want to run to meetings for every special-use permit,” Parish Councilman Steve Thornton agreed, as he pointed out the process for a rezoning change was the same as for a special-use permit.

Planning and Zoning Director Laurette Thymes asked the Parish Council for time for the Planning Commission to review the special-use permit concept before any such approval of the proposed daycare center.

Otherwise, Thymes cautioned, “This will open up R-1 places to C-1 use, which is what the people seem to be against.”The special-use permit application was tabled, pending the workshop on Monday, and is anticipated to be considered for approval Aug. 25.Council Chairman Duaine Duffy, who represents that area, commented later: “We have to have some latitude without changing the zoning all the time.”In other matters, the Parish Council unanimously agreed to increase the solid waste residential collection fee by 20 cents per month to $9.96 permonth.

The increase was requested by contractor Fred Trosclair Inc. to coverincreased landfill tipping fees and is part of the contract. However, theincrease was amended so as not to go into effect until Sept. 15.During discussion of the matter, tree limb collections came under scrutiny and parish residents were advised if they have limbs to be collected to phone 652-4815 to have them promptly picked up.

Also, Grover Bridges of Pleasure Bend asked the Parish Council for help in allowing construction of his home on a sub-standard lot. He told the panelhis permit application had been denied without his knowledge and he was penalized for proceeding with construction.

McTopy said Bridges should be allowed to build under the residential site specifications which applied at the time Bridges bought the lot, prior to passage of the parish’s zoning ordinance.

Planning director Thymes attempted to enforce the fine levied against Bridges for his violation of the zoning ordinance. The fine was insteadrevoked and the construction allowed.

The St. John Animal Control Board has asked for land for a new animalshelter, far from residential places, Parish Councilman Clinton “Rock” Perrilloux reported. Parish President Arnold Labat suggested a parish-owned site off Airport Road in Reserve.

No action was taken, pending study of the idea.

Public Works Director Greg Bush reported progress on the parish’s handling of work orders. During the period of 1993 to 1997, there were1,744 total work orders, with 1,016 completed, a margin of 58 percent, leaving a backlog of 728 jobs.

Since Jan. 5, 1998 through Tuesday, Bush continued, there were 2,119total work orders, with 1,868 completed, a margin of 88 percent, leaving a backlog of only 251 jobs.

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