Neighbors First For Bywater – Board Meeting August 21, 2019

In attendance: Julie Jones, Rhonda Findley, Susan Korec, Anthony Eschmann, Steven Jacob, Brian Luckett, Tyler Harwood. 

Meeting called to order at 7:02 PM. 

The board was introduced to David Fusilier and Patrick Schoen, who plan to develop a hotel at 500 Piety St (river side of Chartres, directly next to the “Rusty Rainbow” bridge). Folwell Dunbar, a near neighbor to the property, was also in attendance. 

The original plan for “high end condos” wound up not being financially feasible. Since the tourist industry continues to grow, a hotel is the current plan. Since we last met with them, plans have changed a little to reflect HDLC comments, though it wasn’t anything obvious from what we could see in the drawings. The plan is still to lease parking spaces in the Crescent Park lot, as well as add space for outdoor seating. Some concerns were raised about ADA access. The developers expect most guests to be “Uber and Lyft people”. Concerns were also raised about employee parking. There would be three commercial units on the ground floor: they are hoping for a coffee shop and maybe a restaurant. The pool and bar on the roof will be operated separately from the hotel, and open to the public. It wasn’t clear how many employees would be on the property at any given time. 

Mr. Dunbar told the developers about some of his challenges as a neighbor to The Country Club (popular restaurant / bar / swimming club) and Markey’s Bar, which are one block from the proposed hotel site. Neither business provides parking, which makes parking for nearby residents difficult, especially on weekends. They are rarely able to park near their homes, which is inconvenient when bringing home groceries and a safety issue when parking far from home at night. Overserved patrons present issues as well, like noise, fighting, and illicit activity (some shocking examples were given). Mr. Dunbar believes the addition of the hotel will have a negative impact on quality of life for near neighbors.

Rhonda suggested the developers and near neighbors meet with Councilmember Palmer and her staff to discuss concerns and work out possible solutions. Brian suggested all night security and saving some of the leased parking spots for displaced near neighbors. Mr. Dunbar suggested the developers consult with the Country Club to come up with possible solutions to some of the issues. The developers and Mr. Dunbar exchanged contact info and plan to meet in the future to talk more. Our guests were thanked and departed around 8PM.

Next the board discussed the proposed bar/restaurant at 830 Piety. Julie reported that the ARC voted in the developers’ favor at the recent meeting. She has serious concerns as this would be an open air drinking establishment in the middle of a residential area. Plans show large garage doors opening to the yard outside the building (the building and the patio area behind are 2887 square feet). The yard, though it certainly would be part of the establishment, would push them over the 2,999 square foot limit. This seems like a clever way to try and avoid the conditional use process which comes in at 3,000 s.f. and also comes in with a development that is primarily a bar. This process would give neighbors an opportunity to voice their concerns. A near neighbor suggested flyers be made to inform other near neighbors of the plans. Julie requested Tyler and Cherry May come up with a quote, and the board can vote on how to proceed via email. All present agreed.

Andrew Jacoby, the attorney NFB consulted on some recent issues, contacted some members of the board requesting “a few small changes to how NFB manages its meetings and how it discusses matters that could be (or are) subject to litigation.” He suggests the board assign specific liaisons to communicate with attorneys. Emails between the liaisons and attorney should not be freely shared. He also suggested formalizing agendas for meetings that include discussions of potential litigation issues, specifying a closed “executive session”. Brian motioned we adopt these policies, Rhonda seconded, and it was unanimously approved. Julie and Brian are the specified liaisons at this time. 

We then discussed plans for the next General Meeting, which will be September 4th. Steven suggested finding someone to discuss parking issues, and volunteered to reach out to potential speakers. Tyler suggested Julie update members about the issues surrounding the plans for 830 Piety. Julie suggested we reach out to the Holy Angels / NSA developers for updates on their plans. Susan volunteered to bring food and Steven will bring water. 

Anthony clarified information he had researched in the NFB bylaws. The bylaws specify no proxy at board or general meetings and we agreed it should remain that way. Board election dates are not specified, so we will move the date a little away from Mardi Gras (probably April) as it has been an issue in the past. He also informed us that the secretary is responsible for sign in sheets at meetings (gasp!). 

Brian has been writing a letter to the CPC outlining our concerns with the current HANO/ITEX development plans. The deadline to submit the letter is the end of the month, so Brian moved that we agree to a three day deadline for board members to submit changes or comments after he emails us his final draft. Susan seconded and the board voted unanimously in favor.

Meeting ended at 8:36 PM.

Submitted by Tyler Harwood, secretary

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