Council vote thwarts plans for day care center

Published 12:03 am Saturday, January 29, 2022

LAPLACE — An attempt by Revelation Knowledge Outreach Center Pastor Alfreda J. DeVare to open a day center on the grounds of the LaPlace church was thwarted by the St. John the Baptist Parish Council during its meeting this past Tuesday night.

The Parish Council rejected DeVare’s request to rezone the church property from Residential District One to Commercial District One, a requirement to open the center. The proposal had been recommended for approval by the Planning and Zoning Commission as well as parish administration.

During the public comments at the beginning of the meeting, DeVare asked the council to vote “policy and not politics.”

Parish resident Stephanie Clark, speaking on behalf of two women and one man who are all in their 80s and live near the church, said “all (the neighbors) want is peace.”

Minister Erica Alston, DeVare’s daughter, said the church has been active in the community for the past 11 years, and a council rejection could hinder the church’s future growth.

“We want youth in our community,” she said. “We are trying to add something that is (beneficial) to the community, and we are trying to be stopped.”

Councilman Lennix Madere said he spoke with every resident on Ash Street, where the church is located, and said only one resident “did not mind” if the daycare was allowed.

“The concern is not so much about the daycare center, but concerns about the (Commercial) zoning and what may come after that,” Madere said. “Once we change that zoning, a whole list of things can come.”

He added, “This is not about politics; it’s about life and where they reside and what they want and don’t want in their neighborhood.”

Councilman Kurt Becnel, in whose district the church is located, admitted “nobody wins in this.”

But, he added, “In all fairness, the people on that street said they did not want it.”

Councilwoman Tonia Schnyder said she spoke with a nearby resident who told her that neighbors would not have a problem with the day care if there was a guarantee nothing else would be allowed in the future.

“He told me ‘We have a quiet neighborhood. We sit outside at night. And we want to keep it that way,’” Schnyder said. “It home with me, and I understood how the residents felt.”

The motion failed 8-1, with Councilman Thomas Malik abstaining.