[StBernard] Commission votes against first step in bringing mixed-income housing to St. Bernard

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Tue Apr 28 22:42:28 EDT 2009

Commission votes against first step in bringing mixed-income housing to St.

08:39 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chad Bower / Eyewitness News

CHALMETTE, La. - The St. Bernard Planning Commission has voted against a
developer's request to re-subdivide land in St. Bernard Parish that would
then be used to build mixed-income housing.

Last month, a U.S. federal district judge threw out a moratorium that
restricted the building of five-plexes or larger in the parish after a
developer from Provident Realty sued against it. Tuesday's vote would have
been the first step in allowing Provident Realty to secure a building permit
to build mixed-income housing in St. Bernard.

But the commission voted 6-0 against the developer's request, with one
member absent. They faced a strong negative reaction from residents who
showed up to the meeting, who cited traffic violations, future ownership and
maintenance as reasons they were against the idea.

"If we let this happen, Section 8 and the federal government will destroy
St. Bernard Parish," said Sterling Cardon, a St. Bernard business owner.

Melissa Hirani, a St. Bernard resident, said she secured over 500 signatures
against the idea in just two days.

"St. Bernard Parish is very often accused of being racist," said Linda
Barrett, a St. Bernard resident. "And I'm quite certain that's how today's
meeting will be spun in the media.

"And it's very unfortunate, because I bet if you asked any one of them - if
you asked the cameramen, if you asked the news crews, if you asked anyone
here in the audience - we make choices about where we want to live based on
our value system. And typically you live near people who share similar
values to you, that work hard, have children in school, and perhaps go to
the same church you do."

But attorney Robert Voelker, who was representing Provident Realty, said
those issues weren't pertinent to Tuesday's meeting.

"I would appreciate it if we would keep the comments today and the
discussion having to do with just the subdivision process," said Robert
Voelker, Provident Realty's attorney. "The actual land use process was
decided when this property was rezoned a number of years ago."

The proposed areas for construction are:

Patricia Street in Chalmette, between the Wal-Mart property and the
Gueringer Canal.
Off of St. Bernard Highway, almost directly across from the Chalmette
National Historical Park Scenic Road in Chalmette
Judge Perez Drive abutting Buccaneer Villa South in Chalmette
West Virtue Street, by the St. Bernard Memorial Gardens Funeral Home in
Provident Realty may still appeal the St. Bernard Parish City Council.

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