by staff reporter Nora Drenner
It was a different kind of meeting Monday, April 13, as Natchitoches City Council members sat six feet apart to conduct their regular monthly meeting. Additionally, attendees had to watch and listen virtually through video conferencing and teleconferencing. Those wishing to comment could do so by phone, through FACEBOOK and email.
All this was to comply with Gov. John Bel Edwards proclamation on April 13 prohibiting public gatherings of more than 10 and social distancing among those who are together to limit the spread of COVID-19.
First on the agenda was consideration of adopting an ordinance changing the zoning classification of property located at 124 Cypress Avenue in the historic district, from R-1 residential one family to R-2 residential multiple family to convert an accessory building to a guest house. Requesting the change was Kirk Cordell.
The planning commission recommended approval of the zoning change when the application was introduced last month. The Planning Commission, which is appointed by the mayor and city council, reviews land use zoning requests and applications for variances and makes recommendations to the city council. Current planning commission members are Ron Brown, Bobby Claiborne, Jacob Cooper, Jamie Flanagan, Isaac Lewis, Michael Lewis, Ricky McCalister and Charles Whitehead III.
At that time, planning and zoning director Juanita Fowler cautioned the council that approving the request could open a can of worms as it could lead to similar requests in the future. During Monday night’s meeting, Fowler phoned in to remind the council of her concern.
Councilman Eddie Harrington said he favored approval because there were other R-2 properties in the vicinity, as well as several businesses nearby. Also briefly kicked around was changing the R-1 classification to R-1 with special exemption. The council received four email comments: three in favor of the zoning change request and one against.
Following discussion which also included one electric meter vs two electric meters if the request was approved, the board unanimously gave its nod to the request. The one meter vs. two meters will be addressed later.
In other business, the council APPROVED :
–Ordinance #24 regarding mobile home placement, permeable parking and a preferred use plan for the development of property on the Louisiana Highway 478 corridor.
–Ordinance #26 allowing a police officer to acquire his service firearm upon retirement.
The board ADOPTED Resolutions:
— #11 opposing proposed legislation that that enables the state legislature to remove the authority of local governments to administer and collect m local sales tax and use taxes.
— # 12 reappointing Cloyd Benjamin Jr to the Board of Directors of the Industrial Development Board of the City of Natchitoches, Louisiana.
— #15 regarding the levy and collection of a one percent sales tax once the Hobby Lobby being constructed within the boundaries of Natchitoches Economic Development District D is up and running.
— #16 finding and determining that a public hearing has held, and no objection was made regarding the levy and collection of a one percent sales and use tax in regard to Hobby Lobby.
The board INTRODUCED ordinance #29 adopting the City of Natchitoches budget for fiscal year June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021.
Lastly, the board ADOPTED three proclamations:
— #13 declaring April 2020 as fair housing month.
— #14 declaring the week of April 13-18 as national community development week in the city.
— #17 declaring April 2020 as national child abuse prevention month in the city.