Despite more than a year’s worth of negotiations to try and find a new home, Greyhound buses are still pulling into the same Lee Avenue station the company has been operating out of since the 1950s. The company had hoped to leave the aging facility and recently reached an agreement to sell the building.
Greyhound has a deal in principle with Right Road Christian Center, a nondenominational church located on South Buchanan Street. Doug Perroncel, the church’s minister, says Right Road planned to renovate and move into the Lee Street building this year. The church, whose ministry places an emphasis on outreach to the homeless and people struggling with drug addictions, has been looking for a bigger presence downtown. Now, Perroncel says, it’s all up in the air because of the city’s decision.
“How can anybody do anything?” he asks. “It’s a sad day for Lafayette when you go get a permit and you can’t move in. What if it was you or me?”
Perroncel is referring to the City-parish Council’s action last week to try to block Greyhound from moving its station to a new location on Moss Street. The council voted 6-3 in favor of an ordinance rescinding a zoning change necessary for Greyhound’s move. Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux spearheaded the effort, based on his constituents’ opposition to having Greyhound locate within the residential neighborhood. (Greyhound has cited the property’s proximity to the interstate as one of its assets.)
The city is now expected to send out notice to Greyhound that its temporary Certificate of Occupancy for the Moss Street building is being revoked. If the company continues renovations at the site, Boudreaux will recommend the city seek a cease and desist order against Greyhound.
Last week, Greyhound spokesman Dustin Clark told The Independent Weekly that company officials learned about the council vote from local newspaper reports but were not informed of the meeting ahead of time. “We haven’t heard from anyone from the city,” Clark says. “We plan on moving forward with our renovations at the Moss Street location until we’re told not to legally.” Clark doesn’t know if that would require a cease and desist order signed by a judge. “It’s not a clear situation right now,” he says. “There seems to be a lot of ambiguity legally in the situation and in the vote.”
Several legal questions arose at last week’s council meeting. Councilman Bruce Conque questioned whether the council’s action would have any teeth, since Greyhound had already obtained building permits and a temporary Certificate of Occupancy under the light industrial zoning classification. He asserted Greyhound may already be legally grandfathered in for that zoning classification. Conque was one of three councilman — including William Theriot and Jared Bellard — who voted against the ordinance to revoke Greyhound’s zoning.
The council’s vote last week repealed the previous city-parish council’s October decision to grant Greyhound’s request that the property be re-zoned from general business to light industrial. Greyhound bought the Moss Street building from IberiaBank contingent upon the zoning change.
The three dissenting councilmen expressed concern that the council was sending the wrong message to the business community. “IberiaBank followed all of the required actions to complete the sale of the property to Greyhound,” says Beth Ardoin, director of communications for IberiaBank, in an e-mailed statement. “At the time of the sale, the community surrounding the property did not express concerns. In fact, no residents spoke out at the Planning and Zoning meeting or responded to the registered letters sent out by the Planning and Zoning Commission outlining the zoning changes.”
In obtaining the industrial zoning for the Moss Street site, Greyhound agreed to stipulations including a sound buffer and another provision that stated if Greyhound ever left the property, it would revert to a general business zoning classification.
At last week’s council meeting, a large number of area residents showed up to voice opposition to Greyhound’s move to the Moss Street site, which sits in a residential area near two schools. Councilman Boudreaux believes the council’s recent decision will hold up in court since Greyhound has yet to begin operating its bus station on Moss Street. He also laments not bringing the issue up sooner; Boudreaux twice delayed a vote on the measure to allow more time for city officials and Greyhound representatives to broker a deal bringing Greyhound into the city’s proposed multi-modal center. During that time, Greyhound went ahead with obtaining permits and a temporary certificate of occupancy for the Moss Street property. “I could have taken action six weeks ago, and I chose not to,” Boudreaux says. “I deferred to show good faith negotiations, and when [Greyhound’s] turn was there to either move forward or show good faith, they chose to move forward.”
Boudreaux still holds out hope that an agreeable solution can be reached. “Once they see the effort that was put forth at the council meeting and again reminding them of wanting to be a good, friendly community neighbor, their representative may want to come back to the negotiating table and work something out.
“This is not about being anti-business,” Boudreaux continues. “This is just about being pro-people. And Greyhound is still welcome to join us in the multi-modal facility.”
MAY 23 Here's a story in the Picayune about some statistics that must come as a blow to folks who believe that any private school can do a better job of educating kids than any public school: Danielle Dreilinger reports that only 30 percent of the voucher kids are passing. That's less than half of the state wide average, she says. It's an interesting statistic because most of the schools (if not all) taking voucher kids have never had their students' standardized test scores released to the public before.
MAY 23 Stephen Sabludowsky blogs on Bayou Buzz about auditor requests here. Recently the state GOP started crowing about a request from the Legislative Auditor, claiming they were being targeted because of their anti-tax stance. (Uh, your what?) Denial and hyperbole aside, the state Democratic party blew holes in that theory with an email announcing they'd received the same request, Sabludowsky writes here.
MAY 23 Jim Brown blogs about the senate race in this post. He says that, given Bobby Jindal's "lack of traction" on the national stage, it might make more sense for the governor to consider running against Mary Landrieu for the senate seat. Since Tim Teeple left the Cassidy team, it makes sense he might land on a Jindal for Senate team, Brown opines.
MAY 23 In this Louisiana Voice post, blogger Tom Aswell writes of rumors that his nemesis, state Superintendent of Education John White, may be soon departing Louisiana for a federal post. It's hard to believe, given his performance, Aswell says, but stranger things have happened. An anti-White BESE member says that, if true, White is quitting before he can be fired.
MAY 23 In this post on American Zombie, blogger Jason Berry writes about the Mother's Day shooting. Mayor Landrieu said that "this is not who we are," but the fact is, this is New Orleans, Berry writes. The violence infused in the city is the result of a culture created by "sins of omission or sins of commission," Berry writes. It's not a problem that can be solved by legislating, policing, praying or publicizing, he says: Someone's got to understand what's happening first.
MAY 23 This post in the Westside Journal tells us what Port Allen Mayor Deedy has been up to lately: vetoing ordinances, apparently. This story is most interesting, however, when it delves into a petition that has been circulating around the city lately. It accuses the former mayor of a lot of nasty things; the former mayor says it is full of lies and "broken syntax" which may be a larger offense in his eyes.
MAY 23 This editorial posted in The Advocate is a bit confusing. The writing is poor - definitely not up to the usual editorial writing standard there - and the point is hard to grasp. Apparently, the writer is saying that privatization of state efforts is OK, as long as there is oversight and transparency, but Jindal's not good at that, and the legislature shouldn't over-react. Okey Dokey. Can't they get one of them Pulitzer-winning people to write an editorial?
MAY 23 This post on The Lens gives you links to a new Google Earth tool that allows you to see any spot on earth transform over the past 30 years. Bob Marshall, who covers the coast for the paper, says that in the case of Louisiana's coastline, it's possibly something you don't want to see, because it's not a pretty picture. There are several clips here, showing critical areas erode away. For Marshall, it was vindication for all those times he was met with eye-rolling when he talked about erosion.
There will soon be a whole lot of shakin’ going on at Benny’s Sportshack Supplement Depot, a new concept by Opelousas native Benny Nele. Located at 2002 Johnston St., the supplement shop, smoothie bar and café, featuring hot off the press paninis and wraps, plans to open in late May.
Philip deMahy Sr., a once respected New Iberia ad exec, was sentenced May 2 to spend the next two years (he faced up to 100 years) in a state penitentiary after state and federal investigators found dozens of images depicting children engaged in lewd sexual acts on his personal computer.