1236 N. Rampart/”The Monastery” Deferred
We learned late Friday that 1236 N. Rampart/”The Monastery” will be deferred on Monday. It should now be heard at the December 11 meeting of the Board of Zoning Adjustments.
Technically, the appellant (Attorney Justin Schmidt, representing owner Sidney Torres/The Rampart Church, LLC) asked the Department of Safety and Permits to go along with a deferral. The Department has agreed to that request. Only the BZA commissioners can grant a deferral, during the actual meeting, but we are fully expecting them to do so.
Given the near-certainty of the deferral, there is no need for concerned citizens to attend the meeting. VCPORA will still be there, to witness the deferral, and we may choose to voice our displeasure that this matter is being put off once again (the first deferral was in October).
Thank you to everyone who has contacted us about this matter, and who’s expressed interest and willingness to help protect this neighborhood. We hope we can count on you again in December.
Board of Zoning Adjustments
Monday, November 13 Monday, December 11 at 10:30 a.m.
City Hall – Council Chambers
1236 N. Rampart – “The Monastery”
At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Zoning Adjustments, attorney Justin Schmidt, representing owner Sidney Torres/The Rampart Church, LLC, will be appealing the decision of the Director of the Department of Safety and Permits. That decision, in a nutshell, says that the site cannot be used as a reception facility. VCPORA fully supports this decision. We encourage you to attend the meeting to advocate for the protection of the French Quarter zoning, and of this neighborhood from incompatible and illegal uses.
The site is the former Center for Jesus the Lord, which had been owned by the Archdiocese of New Orleans and used as a church. It was sold to the current owner in February of 2016.
The BZA will be deciding whether the Safety and Permit decision is in line with what the zoning code allows. The Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance does not permit reception facilities in either of the two zones occupied by property at 1236 N. Rampart: Vieux Carré Commercial – 2, and Vieux Carré Residential – 1.
Despite this fact, and despite having received letters from Safety and Permits of the zoning violation, the site has been rented out on numerous occasions for corporate events, weddings, debutante parties, and even “The Blood Lust Ball” last month.
“The Monastery” advertises itself as being able to accommodate 1500 people (see ad from Gambit Weekly above). It’s been rented repeatedly for large events that overwhelm this fragile, densely-built, mixed-use, historic neighborhood. Streets have been blocked by delivery vehicles, taxis, and buses. Sidewalks have been obstructed by trucks and large generators. Neighbors have been awakened or kept awake by late-night outdoor crowds; even after the parties end, crews come in to dismantle tents, tables, etc. often starting the clean-up at 3 am.
(L) Barracks Street completely blocked and (R) trailer-sized generator parked on sidewalk to set up for an event at 1236 N. Rampart
The reason that new reception facilities are not permitted in these Vieux Carré zones is simple. They are intense uses, often drawing large crowds all at once; creating parking, trash, sound, and associated issues for a neighborhood that cannot handle them. In short, reception facilities are incompatible with our nearly 300 year old, mixed use area. The photos above, and the experiences of nearby neighbors, amply demonstrate that.
Many of you participated in the years-long public process to create our Master Plan and revamp ourComprehensive Zoning Ordinance. The rules that we have established – as a community – should be followed. And when they are not, the city should enforce them. That is what is happening here, and we stand with the city in asking the BZA to uphold this decision.