A proposal to maintain City Council scrutiny over alcohol permits at restaurants on Maple Street was quietly withdrawn on Thursday, after the City Planning Commission unanimously rejected it earlier this summer.
For years, new restaurants in the area had to go through the City Council’s “conditional use” process in order to get permission for alcohol sales, but the city’s new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance removed that requirement. Arguing that Maple Street residents have suffered from undue stress from nearby college bars, however, City Councilwoman Susan Guidry sought to create an official overlay for Maple Street that would have retained the conditional use process.
Guidry’s proposal was debated by residents and business owners in late July before the City Planning Commission, but commissioners voted 6-0 against creating the overlay on Maple Street — effectively allowing new restaurants there to seek liquor licenses without any City Council review.
The commission forwarded their recommendation against the overlay to the City Council with a number of reasons laid out. The CZO is intended to regulate restaurants through reasonable standards that are properly enforced, rather than through cumbersome review processes, the recommendation states.
Maple Street does not differ significantly enough from Oak or Freret streets to warrant its own set of laws, the report states.
“The Commission expressed concern about implementing an overlay for a problem that has not yet occurred, and did not feel that it is appropriate to create regulations in anticipation of a problem that may or may not occur,” the report states.
The item appeared on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the City Council, but the clerk of council announced that the proposal has been withdrawn. None of the council members spoke to the issue.