NEW ORLEANS - Neighbors are up in arms over a proposed ordinance that would allow taller buildings in the Marigny and Bywater.
They voiced their concerns at a city planning commission meeting designed to get public input Wednesday night.
“We do not want the tall buildings to overshadow our historic neighborhood,” said Bywater resident Rick Prince.
The proposal is part of a major city-wide overhaul of the 40-year-old comprehensive zoning ordinance, which regulates land use.
Since the beginning of October, the city has held community meetings across the city to get public comments on the proposed reforms.
For Marigny and Bywater residents who packed KIPP Leadership Academy Wednesday night, the most controversial issues were increased density and height allowances on certain blocks along the riverfront.
“It would destroy the character of the neighborhood,” said Lisa Suarez, past president of the Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association. “We have to be participating now while they're still writing the language.”
Under the proposed zoning ordinance, five intersections along the riverfront from Elysian Fields to Poland Avenue would be designated as “gateways” to the river. Within two blocks of those gateways, developers could build thinner, mixed use structures up to 75 feet high.
The Bywater already has a 75 foot height limit, but the Marigny does not. The city planning commission says in exchange for the extra height, developers would have to provide extra community amenities, like access to the river.
“I would like to know who's responsible for writing that language, for giving away height bonuses in a historic district this makes no sense,” said Suarez.
“If the neighborhood tells us they don't want to see those amenities, then we're not going to be pushing the heights because we're not here to impose solutions on the neighborhood,” said Leslie Alley, deputy director of the city planning commission.
Neighbors fought hard against a 75-foot building in the Marigny last year and won. Now, the city planning commission it will consider all public comments and heed neighborhood concerns in this process, too.
The commission hopes to present a final draft of the comprehensive zoning ordinance to the City Council by the spring.