District A Councilmember Susan Guidry filed a motion that would delay construction plans at Loyola and nearby universities.
According to a letter from the office of President Rev. Kevin Wildes, S.J., Guidry filed a motion for an Interim Zoning District, which will be discussed at a City Council meeting Thursday, May 3.
According to the motion Guidry filed, the city adopted a Master Plan in August 2010 to devise “policies necessary to enhance the character and livability of all neighborhoods.” The City Planning Commission has released a draft of a Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance, which will be the tool to implement the policies in the Master Plan.
The CZO specifically focuses on the “balance” between what colleges and universities want and what their neighbors want. According to the motion, the reason for a remedy to this balance is “there is a risk that developments at colleges and universities may have an adverse impact on surrounding neighborhoods.” Until a permanent draft is decided, Guidry suggested this temporary Interim Zoning District.
Director of Government Relations Tommy Screen said the IZD would only apply to Tulane University, Xavier University and Loyola University.
In a statement from Guidry’s office, Sherri K. Wilder, community liaison, said, “The geographic area impacted by the legislation includes those that are reviewed by the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee and specifically excludes the suburban-style campuses in the northern areas of New Orleans.” Wilder also said, “It is not an attempt to impede the progress of the development plans of any institution.”
The IZD would “prohibit the construction or expansion to existing structures of any building or facility within college or university campuses that will result in a building or facility in excess of 250,000 square feet of gross floor area and will cover a footprint of more than 50,000 square feet within any residential zoning district,” within the boundaries defined in the IZD.
“The impact would be to prohibit any city offices from issuing any building permits to Loyola,” said Screen.
According to Screen, this motion is Guidry’s response to complaints from some Tulane neighbors. Screen said, “Clearly, this is a shot at trying to halt Tulane’s plans for the football stadium, because the neighbors are opposed to the stadium.”
Screen said those surrounding Tulane who oppose the stadium reached out to Guidry to propose a resolution.
Loyola “adamantly opposes” this proposal for three reasons, said Screen. It is discriminatory against only the three universities mentioned, it stifles economic development by preventing the creation of jobs at Tulane’s stadium and it attempts to make law out of a process that isn’t figured out yet.
Aaren Gordon can be reached at email@example.com