NFB Board Meeting – November 20, 2019

Meeting started at 7:13pm.

Present: Anthony Eschmann, Brian Luckett, John Andrews, Julie Jones, Susan Korec, Tyler Harwood, Rhonda Findley, Stephen Haedicke

We started with a discussion of what to plan for the next general meeting, which will be December 4th. Julie contacted Councilmember Palmer’s office to see if she or a member of her staff could come discuss business development on St Claude Ave., as we planned for our last meeting that we wound up cancelling. John told us about well organized efforts by residents of Algiers to get potholes and service cuts repaired on their streets. It was suggested we find out who to contact from the city regarding street repairs as a backup, or better yet, a second speaker. Julie will bring pizza, Tyler will bring water, and Anthony will bring plates, cups, ect… Rhonda offered to get more tableware should we need it. 

Julie passed out copies of a letter from NOLA Parks For All that we have been asked to support. The letter is in regards to creating a “Master Plan for Parks and Open Spaces” to effectively and efficiently utilize funds from millages approved by voters last May. The board voted unanimously to support the effort. We all like parks, and our green spaces are disappearing with the current development frenzy.

We were then given a brief update on the bar planned for 830 Piety Street. As requested by Councilmember Palmer, Rhonda coordinated a meeting between near neighbors and members of the BNA. The BNA seemed receptive to the concerns of the neighbors, and acknowledged issues with the plans. 

A near neighbor to Studio Be (2941 Royal St) has been complaining about noise from events at the property. Tyler confirmed that noisy generators and large air conditioners are frequently parked on the street in front of her house. Susan recalls some near neighbors complaining at one of the NOPD 5th district MAX meetings, but the police didn’t seem to think they would be able to help. Apparently the tenant would like to change the official designation of the property with the city from “art gallery” to “event space”, and there was some discussion as to what that would mean and if it is allowable by right in the current zoning. As it is now, special event permits are required and there is a limit to how many they can get in a year. Brian recalled a social media post by Sean Cummings, the owner of the property, back when his plans for the “Via Latrobe” development were still a hot topic with near neighbors. He implied that some of the money from special events held in his warehouses would go toward improvements in the neighborhood. We are curious if this was ever followed through on, as the areas around the warehouses continue to be in poor condition. Tyler volunteered to contact some other near neighbors to see if they have had issues, and will follow up.

John went to one of Councilmember Palmer’s coffee meet-ups, and mentioned some potential confusion regarding our position on the hotel planned for 500 Piety (@ Chartres). We are still opposed to the parking arrangements. Parking should not be leased from the French Market Corp in the lot that serves Crescent Park, it should be provided on site or a private lot should be leased or bought. John will follow up with Ms. Palmer to reiterate and clarify our position. 

An application for Conditional Use to have an event space at 3615-25 St. Claude Ave. will come before City Planning December 10th. A recent NPP apparently did not give a very clear picture of what they have planned, but it was noted that parking is extremely limited and they will be seeking a waiver. They are also asking for “recision of Ordinance 15,311 MCS”. Stephen will research what that means and follow up. We will vote on further action, if necessary, by email.  

Yet another parking waiver is being saught by a planned commercial STR at 3219 St. Claude Ave. The property is zoned HMC-2, and law would require they provide four parking spots, which they cannot. A discussion ensued about best practices for developing St. Claude as a commercial corridor, and it was generally agreed that STRs on street facing ground floors are not ideal. Brian will write Councilmember Palmer regarding the recent high volume of requests for parking waivers. Why have laws if anyone can ask for a pass?

Our January general meeting would fall on New Years Day. It was suggested we push it until the 8th and have a social at Luna Libre, Rhonda’s new cafe. 

There was then a brisk discussion regarding the plans for a hotel at the old Holy Angels Convent at 3500 St. Claude. The new building will be very large and the developers say it is the only way the project will be economically feasible. What could happen if the lease runs out for the senior housing? Or if they decide to nullify the lease? There should also be some discussion as to how the hotel will operate. Will it be a staffed hotel, with security and a front desk, providing jobs for the neighborhood? Or will it be a minimally staffed 92 room STR? MCC group has apparently partnered with Sonder (a STR corp) on other projects. Near neighbors have been quiet, but they may not be aware of potential issues. Brian is a near neighbor and will do some research.

The meeting ended at 8:45.

Submitted by Tyler Harwood, secretary

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