Sep 272011
 

The facade of the proposed Taco Bell. (via nola.gov)

A proposal to use a home on Maple Street as an office for two child psychologists was turned down by the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, but a Taco Bell planned for South Claiborne Avenue was given speedy approval.

Dr. Lucinda Lang DeGrange said that the home she owns at 7513 Maple could already be used for her own practice, but that she had hoped to rent out one of its units to another psychologist, and for that needed a zoning change. Her house sits between two others at the edge of the Maple Street “neighborhood business” corridor, so that’s why she chose that zoning classification, she told planning commissioners.

“That’s what’s already on the street. In theory, it would be an extension of what’s already there,” DeGrange said. “But, it is more than I need.”

The zoning change was vigorously opposed by a handful of neighbors who said they support DeGrange’s practice, but do not want the Maple Street businesses encroaching further in their neighborhood.

“We are sympathetic to what she wants to do, but we are unalterably opposed to changing this to B1 (neighborhood business) zoning,” said Tommy Milliner, president of Maple Area Residents Inc. “Our neighborhood is under attack. It is under almost nightly attack by bars and other commercial establishments. The idea of having a psychology office is one thing, and we are not opposed, but changing the zoning is another thing.”

Several people mentioned a different zoning classification, “RO,” suggesting it was a sort of residential-office hybrid, but planning staffer Editha Amacker pointed out that RO actually is for “General Office” zoning and is much more permissive than the neighbors realize. It’s actually intended for office-park type settings, she said, and could allow much taller buildings than neighborhood businesses.

“Some of those uses, things like hotels, are not really what you’d expect in a residential area,” Amacker said.

The commission voted 6-0 against the project.

“I know that neighborhood, and there’s a lot of commercial pressure on it already,” said Commissioner Lynes Sloss.

* * *

By comparison, the Taco Bell proposed to replace the blighted old Pizza Hut on South Claiborne got cursory treatment from the commissioners. The architect told the commissioners that the developers would accept all the city’s design recommendations, no supporters or opponents stepped forward to speak, and the project was approved unanimously without comment.

In lieu of a meaty discussion in the City Council chambers, Twitter provided a strong reaction all day in favor of the news:

  • Uptowner

    A truly dark day for our city: we approve and celebrate the coming of a TACO BELL, while at the same meeting we can’t tolerate the coming of a child psychologists to a commercial area because it feels it is “under attack” by having a couple of fun bars nearby??!? Do we live in New Orleans or Orlando? This is utter madness.

  • patty

    I sent this email twice to Susan Guidry with no response. After seeing that they are refusing to let an Dr. office open up in this area. I just want to know if she is anti-local buisness. She would not grant Abita there permit for the Pub crawl on Maple street. Does she not want any foot traffic on Maple street. Should these bars and restraunts and boutiques just close down so it can be a full residential street. Abita would have taken an advertisment out with uptownmessenger.com/whereyat magazine andgambit also to promote this event. Below is the email i sent her without a response

    My name is Patty Lewis and I have lived on Hillary for 31 years. About this time of the year we always get ready for our party. The Abita Pub crawl brings ex neighbors and life long friends to this area. I spoke with one of the bar managers on maple, and he told me that you would not grant them a permit. Basically, you didnt allow over 500 new customers to come to this area. There are new restraunts and boutiques on this block. Many of them count on this day to get thier name out into a new audience. Also, you caused mulitple bar employees who are college students a small fortune. You caused NOPD not to have a paid detail, and you caused all the Abita and Cresent Crown employees overtime which they count on like my son. I know these small buisness owners and college students do not have a vote because thier address differ. But, I do have a vote and I will put every sign up and donate to everyones campaign. This is beyond pathetic, the buisnesses that created this area you are attempting to destroy. You have cost this area a fortune by not granting this permit. It is just not the buisnesses but, salesman and deliv. drivers who work on comission. I should have moved out of this city after Katrina. The roads, neighbors who have justed moved into the area, and especially you are beyond pathetic. –Patty lewis

    • Em

      And, thank G-d, because this permit for a large drunk party was not issued, the neighborhood slept that night. So inappropriate to try to turn a quiet residential neighborhood into a French Quarter disaster.

      Driving down Oak Street nowadays is beginning to be impossible. The cabs line up in front of the Maple Leaf and Jaquimo’s and just sit in the street , blocking traffic.

      We have residential zoning and permitting for a reson- it is called quality of life. If you want a pub crawl, do it in a neighborhood that is no longer a neighborhood , like the French Quarter.

      • Tom

        Em, I used to live on Burthe, half a block away from the bars on Maple. Never once in all the time I lived there was a night’s sleep disturbed by bar patrons.

  • Elizabeth

    Patty: Guidry will be on her way out soon. I do support the Taco Bell on Claiborne (and I do support national retailers in New Orleans). However, I also support local business….and Guidry has shown herself to be anti local business and anti Uptown. She has to go.

  • Riverbend

    I’ve lived off Maple St for over 10 years. And yes you do hear people when they come and go from the bars and yes the delivery trucks and various garbage trucks shake the house when they roll by nightly. That being said I love being able to walk to Starbucks to get my coffee in the morning, any genre of food I crave in the evening, and the salon to get my haircut every couple of weeks. MARI is a select few from the neighborhood that do not represent the sentiment of the neighborhood. Many of us live off Maple because we like the hustle and bustle of a vibrant street. When you sit on the porch there is always someone walking by to say hello to and lots of energy that keeps the neighborhood alive. If you want solitude go to the north shore and we will keep our European-esque neighborhood.

  • brian knighten

    We are experiencing the same issues with Guidry Uptown regarding the Whole Foods requests, Walgreens development and Monkey Hill expansion – she is pro-Walgreens and Whole Foods and anti-Monkey Hill (which is a locally owned and operated bar, which had approval three times previously to expand). Hopefully the guys who created the “Anybody But Batt” slogan won’t mind if we borrow it for our next council election.

    And, I used to live on Hillary and love the neighborhood and its access to Maple Street. Its a shame the pub crawl didn’t happen.