To progress or not: Residents disagree on zoning correction

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An appeal was brought before the Parish Council Monday night, Oct. 17, regarding property along Hwy. 494 on the river side between Hampton and T Prudhomme Roads.

Two groups spoke for and against a zoning change approved by a unanimous vote of the Parish Planning and Zoning Commission Oct. 3.

Chairman Russell Rachal made a motion to stand behind the Commission’s decision, but members Patsy Ward Hoover and Chris Paige voted no while Rodney Bedgood abstained. Then Paige made a motion to table their vote until next month’s meeting, which would give them more time to look over the documents both parties presented to them. Hoover seconded his motion and it passed, with Rachal and Doug de Graffenried voted no.

However, the change in zoning isn’t anything new; the Commission simply rectified an error. A commissary and wooded lot were originally business occupancies for over 100 years. When zoning went into effect, the parcel was split diagonally into B3 (Commercial) and IA (Industrial Agricultural) lots.

“We’re trying to revert back to the historical use of the property,” said Planning and Zoning Director Greg Lemoine.

The owners of the land, Melissa and Susan Cloutier and Margaret Shaw, want the zoning all in one category (B3) so they can clean it up and potentially sell it. However no other projects are on the books for the property.

“It’s always been commercial,” said Melissa. “We’re asking to correct the zoning, not change it.”

Joyce Perry and Jimmy Atherton spoke against the zoning correction approved by the Commission. Perry lives at the end of Shaw’s property. She owns a dog grooming business and her property is zoned R-2 (special exemption to conduct business). Atherton, of Winnfield, owns a lot in Beau Riviera subdivision across Cane River from the Shaw and Cloutier property.

Their argument stated that reverting back to the B3 zoning classification on the property would drop the value of homes in the area and open the door for a slew of businesses.
However, Tony and Rhonda Hernandez, Jack Duty, Connie Anne Keppinger and a potential developer spoke for the Council to stand behind the commission’s decision. Their argument stated that the people in opposition need to look at the broader picture: development means progress.

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