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Parking wars 

Zoning restrictions peeve developer

  The New Orleans City Council has unanimously approved a controversial plan for a surface parking lot in the 100 block of South Rampart Street in the Central Business District.

  Local preservationists balked at turning the site into a parking lot. Now an empty lot, the site was formerly home to several historic buildings, including Morris Music, which is closely associated with Louis Armstrong. A 2000 plan to build a parking structure on the site never materialized. The City Planning Commission's staff report noted that a surface lot, rather than a building or parking structure, would be inconsistent with high-density objectives outlined in the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.

  District B Councilwoman Diane Bajoie brokered a compromise, limiting a conditional use permit to three years, rather than the five years that developer Muskeget LLC had sought. After that, Muskeget must either build a permanent structure or reapply for an extension of the permit. In addition, within nine months, the company is required to present a proposal to commemorate the history of the site.

  "It's a conditional use, and the developer doesn't like the conditions," Bajoie said. "It's a conditional use for a limited period of time." — Charles Maldonado


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