News and Media

Potentially Damaging Amendments to the CZO

Potentially Damaging Amendments to the CZO

Tuesday, June 23rd’s marathon City Planning Commission meeting agenda tackled the 11 amendments that were introduced, but voted on, by the City Council at their May 14 meeting. Several of these amendments, all authored by District C Council member Nadine Ramsey, were of vital interest to the French Quarter, including those that would : Allow the sale of package liquor at restaurants Allow live entertainment in French Quarter restaurants and alter the permitted uses in the VCS zones (essentially the French Market, the Jax Brewery buildings, and the riverfront surface parking lots) to permit entertainment in restaurants there. Delete a provision requiring that entertainment venues keep doors and windows closed, and allow live and recorded entertainment in French Quarter courtyards The big takeaway from Tuesday’s meeting is that CM Ramsey’s amendments would have grave consequences for neighborhoods, particularly the amendment that would allow open doors and windows at entertainment venues and permit entertainment in French Quarter courtyards until 2 a.m.  Given the dense, mixed-use built environment of the Vieux Carre, such a provision would undoubtedly have severe and negative impacts on nearby uses, both residential and business. A number of speakers voiced concerns about the effects of such a drastic change to French Quarter zoning, including Mamie Gasperecz, director of the Hermann-Grima Historic House Museum on St. Louis Street, whose courtyard abuts several Bourbon Street establishments.  She stated that the museum’s children’s and educational programming, which includes art, drama, geography, book clubs, archaeology, math, science, history, architecture, camps, Boy and Girl Scout badge programs, and more, would not exist if courtyards are allowed to have entertainment.  And in a... read more
City Council Meeting on the CZO: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

City Council Meeting on the CZO: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

No matter which side of any particular zoning issue you stand, if you care at all about a fair and open process, genuine citizen participation, and the years of work that New Orleanians put into creating a new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, then last Thursday, May 14 was a dark day.  Despite over 7 years of meetings, hearings, charrettes, workshops, roundtables, and more meetings, amendments were introduced at the 11th hour – some even during the council meeting – and several proposed radical changes for land use in this city, changes that had never been mentioned to the public, much less discussed The citizens of this city were told to participate in this process because our voices mattered.  Because the CZO was going to be the embodiment of New Orleanians’ hopes and aspirations for our city.  Citizens reviewed inches-thick drafts of the CZO, submitted comments, spoke at hearings, organized their own public meetings, and more.  Because all of that work, we were promised, would be reflected in the final product. But, thanks to a flurry of last-minute amendments, the “process” was rendered a mockery.  The spirit of the CZO, which emphasized citizen participation, transparency, and fairness, was turned on its head as changes put forth by special interest groups often subverted years of public input, and even deprived the public of their ability to be informed citizens. Many vital and complicated documents were not shared with the public in advance.  We all know that the devil is in the details: It’s what is in writing, what is subject to review, questions, and comment that matters. Thanks to the actions of... read more
Schwartz-Gage Award Luncheon honoring Ann Masson

Schwartz-Gage Award Luncheon honoring Ann Masson

Sunday, June 28, 2015 Cocktails: 11am – 12pm Brunch and Program: 12pm – 2pm Muriel’s Jackson Square $75 per person; purchase tickets below. Kindly RSVP by June 19 The Schwartz-Gage award is presented by VCPORA to someone who has shown exemplary dedication, leadership, and commitment to the French Quarter. It is given out only once every two years. The award is named for two remarkable sisters, Eugenie Schwartz and Grace Gage, whose decades of work to protect and preserve the Vieux Carré left a legacy that still benefits us... read more

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