“Save the Fly” organizers request special zoning protections to slow Carrollton Boosters soccer field development

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Neighbors rally around the sculpture at "The Fly" on Sunday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Neighbors rally around the sculpture at “The Fly” on Sunday. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Although they appeared to be rebuffed by the New Orleans City Council last month, members of the “Save the Fly” movement are asking for the city to impose a new process that could slow down, alter or even stop the proposed Carrollton Boosters soccer complex on the Audubon Riverview.

Adrienne Petrosini has filed an official request with the City Council to create an “Interim Zoning District” on The Fly, which would govern any future development there — including, presumably, the new Carrollton Boosters sports field.

“Putting into place an Interim Zoning District is the only way to ensure that a drastic and irreversible development does not occur on precious, public, open green space,” Petrosini’s letter to the Council reads. “The Council can then ask the City Planning Commission to study whether this area should be allowed to have active recreation. At the end of the day, the project may go forward, but the community deserves to have the issues seriously considered by the City Planning Commission and the Council.”

The agenda for Thursday’s City Council meeting includes formal receipt of Petrosini’s letter on the consent agenda — a group of routine items that are typically voted on at once without individual consideration. Unless a City Council member specifically requests discussion of the request, receipt of it will likely pass without comment on Thursday.

The item notes that the IZD request “may be received and referred to the Community Development Committee,” but even that it is not a given. The fact that the request will be received by the Council does not guarantee it will automatically appear before the committee, where the agenda is set at the discretion of the committee chair, city officials said.

Interim Zoning Districts do not usually get review by council committees, but instead are taken up by the Council as a whole, according to information provided by City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s office (who chairs the Community Development Committee). In fact, City Councilwoman Nadine Ramsey has an item on Thursday’s regular agenda directing the Planning Commission to consider a proposal for an IZD in Algiers — the first time that the Council has dealt with the Algiers IZD, Cantrell’s office notes.

Whether the City Council would even support additional controls being placed on the Carrollton Boosters project is likewise uncertain. It has already acted in support of the project once — approving without comment the demolition request for the old cinderblock bathroom building on the site that enables the sports complex to be built. Further, at the same Community Development Committee meeting last month, Councilman James Gray said he would support the Carrollton Boosters if he did have a direct vote on it, and Councilwoman Stacy Head said she sympathized with some of the land-use issues raised but had sharper words for those opponents who had criticized the Carrollton Boosters’ intentions.

Cantrell herself said she called the February meeting of her committee to allow the public a chance to experss its opinions about the issue, but did not suggest any further action. City Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who represents the part of Uptown that includes The Fly, said she would like to see further discussion between the Carrollton Boosters and neighbors, but likewise did not offer any sort of Council structure for those conversations.

In 2012, Guidry had proposed a similar Interim Zoning District to govern the construction of the Tulane stadium, but later withdrew the motion amid outspoken opposition from Mayor Mitch Landrieu and several other council members.

Members of the “Save The Fly” movement acknowledged that Thursday would not be the day for a public hearing on the IZD request in a message to supporters on Facebook.

“There is no need for massive support at The City Council Meeting Thursday,” according to a message posted Tuesday evening on the group’s Facebook page. “What is needed are lots of individual emails to each Council Person asking them to vote to consider the request for an Interim Zoning District.”

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