In Uptown New Orleans, a run for the border may soon get a good bit quicker.
On Tuesday, the city planning commission will review plans for a Taco Bell restaurant in the long-vacant Pizza Hut building on South Claiborne Avenue. Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a child-psychology clinic proposed in an old home on Maple Street.
The Taco Bell plans call for the demolition of the graffiti-prone Pizza Hut to make way for a new building with a drive through. The property is already zoned commercial, but because it’s located in an Inner-City Urban Use corridor, it requires specific permission to become a fast-food restaurant and carries stricter design standards.
“A strong visual connection shall be made between the building’s design and the existing character of the area,” the Inner-City corridor law reads.
City planners are recommending that the commission approve the restaurant’s request, and have no quarrel with the building’s “traditional Taco Bell south-west architectural style,” but insist it dramatically reduce the amount of bell-shaped signage proposed for the property.
According to tacobell.com, the closest restaurant in Orleans Parish is in Gentilly.
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The other Uptown property set for consideration Tuesday is the use of a home at 7513 Maple as an office for child-psychologist Lucinda Lang DeGrange. DeGrange has told the city the majority of her work is in area school, and would likely see only five clients a week at the office itself.
The planning staff, however, recommends against DeGrange’s request to change the building from its longstanding residential zoning to neighborhood-business classification. Though the house is located literally only one lot away from the beginning of the Maple Street commercial zoning stretch, it is technically between two other residential properties and would thus constitute “spot zoning,” the staff says.
In her application, DeGrange suggests that her neighboring properties are hardly residential in actual fact. One is in “severe disrepair,” she writes, populated by feral cats that hide in the tall weeds between the old car parts, and the other is abandoned as well, with a entire junked Volkswagen in front.
“From Cherokee to Carrollton Avenue is commercial with the exception of three buildings, two of which are my immediate neighbors and are eyesores on this lovely street,” DeGrange wrote.
The neighborhood association, Maple Area Residents Inc., supports DeGrange’s proposal under a different zoning, writes Thomas Milliner. The neighborhood believes “residential office” zoning would be more appropriate than “neighborhood business,” because the latter would permit much more intense uses including gas stations or fast food, such as, presumably, a Taco Bell.
The City Planning Commission convenes at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, and will be broadcast on local cable as well as streamed live over the web.