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Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

NEW ORLEANS -- It has been a source of controversy among residents for over a year, but Wednesday, despite outspoken opposition by several residents, the Vieux Carre Commission approved the Habana Outpost Development.

After months changes, seven of the 11 commissioners approved the overall design and concept of the restaurants, which means the development will become a reality as long as nothing changes.

The meeting erupted in applause and cheers after the commissioners approved the development.

'I have been working with the commission for a long time and have worked hard to get it to the place that it is, and having the change of use approval is a great one,' said Habana Outpost Owner Sean Meenan. 'It feels good.'

But many residents still stood up to oppose the project, even after all the changes that have been made and approved by the architectural review committee over the last several months.

'I think there's more steps to this process and it's not over yet,' said Sandra Stokes of the Louisiana Landmark Society Board. 'The real problem is that this is out of scale and out of character for the French Quarter.'

As part of the approval of project, Meenan had to withdraw solar panels from his design, and the review committee recommended that the billboards on the property be removed.

It's a point of contention with Meenan, who wants them to stay, but with a pending lawsuit, the fate of the billboards will be left in the hands of a judge.

'The boards are illegal and the city has pleaded that,' said Sonny Shields.

Regardless, with Wednesday's approval, the project is moving forward into the next phase of the design process.

This approval doesn't mean construction will be starting anytime soon. Now that the project design has been approved, Meenan can apply for a construction permit, as well as prepare and present the final plans to the commission.

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