Potential Business Owner Facing Restrictions From Lafayette Council
A Lafayette man trying to open a business on an increasingly commercial corridor is facing restrictions from the Lafayette City-Parish Council.
Property owner Scott Hines said he's trying to open an organic fruit and vegetable stand on his undeveloped five acres off of University Avenue — a business plan he came up with after the council last year rejected his proposition to open a Dollar General on the same residential lot.
“I’m trying to get the best use for my property, and the only way I can get the best use for it is to have the right, appropriate zoning," Hines said at the May 6 council meeting. "I don’t need restrictions on my property. My neighbors don’t have restrictions."
If you're gonna make it a point to say this is what you want to do, we're gonna hold you to it.
The council approved an amended version of the introductory ordinance that creates a conditional rezoning of Hines' property, the condition being that he can only open the produce stand he said he intends to operate.
District 7 Council Member Donald Bertrand said in other rezoning cases, applicants have proposed one business and opened another that affected quality of life in a neighborhood. He gave an example of one applicant who proposed opening a dentist's office but ended up opening a four-story hotel that overlooked neighborhood yards.
"If you're gonna make it a point to say this is what you want to do, we're gonna hold you to it," said Bertrand. "We're not playing a game here."
Hines' attorney, James Bullen, said for the council to recommend a conditional rezoning is illegal, as zoning codes dictate that the council can create a conditional zoning agreement only upon the zoning commission's recommendation.
Eleanor Buoy, director of planning, zoning and codes, said her department recommended the commercial rezoning without condition and that Hines could technically still sell his property to Dollar General if he wished.
But she said it's not a problem for the council to consider each site individually.
"Every zoning variance has to be looked at," Buoy said. "To say that all that is true: Yes. To say that that would say it isn't spot-zoning — that it's appropriate for a major artery. But in every specific case, you have a right to look at one piece of property's development."
"You've got to really look at it site-specifically," she added.
District 3 Council Member Brandon Shelvin, who represents the area where the property is located, opposed the Dollar General when Hines first approached the council several months ago.
"I lobbied and campaigned and asked that we vote it down, because it's in my district," Shelvin said. "I travel these roads, and I know what effects the Dollar General has."
Hines maintained he has no intention to open a Dollar General there, and that he's merely looking for the same treatment as his neighbors, whose properties are already zoned for commercial use.
"My issue affects me and my family and my neighbors, who are all for it," Hines said. "That's all I'm asking: to get what my neighbor has."
The council voted 5-3 to approve an amendment that created the condition on the property's rezoning, with Council Members Jared Bellard, District 5; Andy Naquin, District 6; and William Theriot, District 9 voting against the amendment.
The council then voted unanimously to approve the introductory ordinance as amended.
Council Chair Kevin Naquin was absent because of a family emergency.