Fairgrounds Triangle neighborhood continues to fight return of store



Posted on November 18, 2013 at 11:16 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 18 at 11:21 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- Neighbors in the Fairgrounds Triangle are continuing to fight one business owner's push to reopen a convenience store.

They say if it returns, it will be a breeding ground for crime, especially if alcohol sales are grandfathered in.

"You see kids playing on the park. All the lights are on the park. No drug deals are happening right now. We have a real-real neighborhood," said homeowner Terry White.

Basketballs were bouncing Monday night on the courts inside Stallings Playground. It hasn't always been this way.

"If you allow him to come back, there's going to be a lot of bloodshed," White said.

He's referring to a blighted convenience store that was torn down on this corner last fall. He and other neighbors say it was a haven for criminal activity when its doors were open.

In recent weeks, construction on a new building kicked off to the dismay of those living nearby.

"Our fight for many years has been to try and make our playground safe, and part of that is to not have alcohol right across the street," said Morgan Clevenger with the Fairgrounds Triangle Neighborhood Association.

She said a community appeal at a hearing last week halted the building permit on this property. Clevenger said neighbors were able to show the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) that the property had been blighted since before Hurricane Isaac -- contrary to what had been allegedly filed with the city.

"The first round, the big battle has been won. The building permit has been revoked," Clevenger said.

The neighborhood association says since the convenience store was shut down over a year ago, there haven't been any murders near Stallings Playground.

"Four murders beginning of 2012, no murders this year," said Clevenger.

Those who don't want to see violent crime return to this city block say it's a small victory that they hope won't be overturned.

"People shouldn't have to be held hostage in their own neighborhood, and if you don't speak up, that means that the guy that doesn't live in your neighborhood comes to your neighborhood and runs your neighborhood," said White.

Eyewitness News reached out to the convenience store owner for comment on the building's permit being revoked, but he did not respond in time for our evening newscast.

The city of New Orleans says once Safety and Permits receives the ruling of the Board in writing, it will revoke the permits and issue a stop work order. The property owner still has the option to appeal the BZA ruling.