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Friday, June 30, 2006

Letter to Our Council

This is an exceprt of a letter was written by one of our members

There is a misconception that I have heard voiced, both by Councilperson Miduras office, and in the ABC TV news story on the proposed Walgreens at the corner of Carrollton and Claiborne, that I would like to correct. The public and neighbors who are in opposition to a proposed 150 foot setback variance for the building, have been told that if the Carrollton Overlay is adhered to (ie. No setback from the street), no design review will be given to the actual design of the building itself. That is a misleading, and utterly false statement. The Zoning Ordinance clearly states that :

The overall building design (including its height and bulk) should be compatible with the neighborhood and shall provide for a pedestrian environment (through) the use of visually active ground level treatments by incorporation of overhangs, arcades, balconies and galleries, (and) architectural details, material, colors, textures. The design vernacular and site development shall adhere to the character and scale of the surroundings.The City Planning Commission has the authority, and indeed the duty, to review the design (including the facades) of the proposed building, and the power to recommend changes if they find the design lacking. I would hope that a neighborhood committee could be allowed to be part of that process as well. This was obviously not done at the Walgreens on Claiborne and Napoleon, and resulted in a nondescript block of a building. But that, I fear, was due to the City Planning Commission not following the design review recommendations of the Zoning Ordinance, and not a fault of the Zoning Ordinance per se.

It is important to set the record straight for those who may have been confused by any unintentional misinformation disseminated by the media or Ms Miduras office on this matter.

What a difference some blight makes.....

This past May, FIA invited newly-inaugurated District A City Councilman Jay Batt to our General Membership Meeting, to discuss Walgreens planned re-development of the northwest corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne Avenues.

In his campaign speeches,then-candidate Batt made a bold promise of bringing not one
but two or three grocery stores to the lower Carrollton area. This Walgreens site
plays heavily in the ongoing grocery store debate, as it is one of the few ommercial sites along South Carrollton Avenue capable of handling anything more than the smallest neighborhood store.

For over two years, members of several neighborhood groups in the Carrollton area have met with City planners, former District A Councilman Scott Shea and other municipal leaders, to monitor and critique Walgreens design and development plans, hoping to ensure that Walgreens plans for the busy corner were compatible with the
historical and residential character of our neighborhood.

At the request of FIA representatives and others, Councilman Shea deferred
any City Council action on Walgreens proposed plan, to allow additional inquiry into the matter, and to allow his successor Batt time to broker a compromise between the increasingly opposing factions. Batt never shied away from the fact that his primary
objective was simply to ensure that the Walgreens plan included a grocery store. But many residents had additional concerns, and were willing to forego the opportunity to make groceries just down the corner, if it meant compromising on the City
Carrollton Overlay design restrictions.

Briefly stated, Walgreens proposed plan began with demolishing the existing commercial building that once housed a K&B Drugstore and a Canal/Villere grocery store. But in addition, Walgreens planned to acquire and raze the entire city block, including, most notably, the fire station at the corner of Carrollton and Nelson.
In its place, Walgreens proposed a new commercial center that, in the eyes
of many residents, was poorly situated on and simply too large for the site. Many residents also opposed the relocation of the fire station to an unidentified site on the lake side of Earhart Boulevard.

Another key objection expressed to the Walgreens plan was the lack of certainty that a grocery store the second phase of a two-phase development would ever be built. As
proposed by Walgreens, the former K&B/Canal Villere building would be demolished immediately, making room for the quick construction of the new Walgreens store.

Carrollton Overlay

OK…How Hard should this be to understand?

The following design standards take precedence over ones specified in the underlying zoning districts which are less restrictive:

Building Design A strong visual connection shall be made between the building design and the existing character of the area. The overall building design (including its height and bulk) should be compatible with the neighborhood and shall provide for a pedestrian environment through the use of visually active ground level treatments. Where appropriate, buildings should provide climatic protection to their users by incorporation of overhangs, arcades, balconies and galleries. Architectural details, material, colors, textures and landscape treatments shall be coordinated to provide visual continuity, quality and consistency. The design vernacular and site development shall adhere to the character and scale of the surroundings.

2. Site Development

a. Setbacks Front yard setbacks shall be the average of the existing buildings on the block face with the installation of landscaping in any front yard setback.

b. Vehicular Use Area Landscaping and Screening. Parking areas shall be designed to meet the standards set forth in Section 15.2.5 of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. A continuous landscape hedge at a minimum height of thirty (30) inches shall be required along the perimeter of any vehicular use area adjacent to the public right-of-way. Alternatively, masonry wall, earth berm, metal fence and a hedge, or any combination thereof meeting the same height requirements may be substituted. Any residual areas not used for parking or vehicular access shall be landscaped with trees, shrubs and groundcover. Additionally, a landscaped island shall be required every ten (10) continuous parking spaces, to include the planting of a minimum of one (1) shade tree, shrubs and/or groundcover. All required trees shall be a minimum of ten (10) feet in height and have a minimum caliper of two (2) inches upon installation.

c. Street Tree Planting Where the continuity of major street tree plantings has been interrupted, as determined by the City Planning Commission staff, the reestablishment of such planting shall be required as a condition of development/redevelopment. Such plantings shall be in accordance with the standards of the Department of Parks and Parkways.

d. Trash Dumpsters Trash dumpsters (and any other type of refuse storage area) that are positioned adjacent to or visible from any other land use or street right-of-way shall be screened from view from them with an opaque wooden fence or masonry wall that is no less than six (6) feet tall.

e. Loading Area Service drives or other areas for off-street loading shall be provided in such a way that during the loading and unloading, no truck will block the passage of other vehicles on the service drive or extend into any other public or private drive or street. All loading areas shall be screened from view from the adjacent properties or street right-of-way with an opaque wooden or masonry fence that is no less than six (6) feet tall.

f. Lighting Light standards shall be limited in height to twenty-five (25) feet and shall not be directed toward any adjacent residential uses.

3. Signage

a. Each business shall be limited to one (1) attached wall or projecting sign. The sign shall be limited to one (1) square foot per linear foot of building width or tenant space to a maximum of seventy (70) square feet. Exterior attached signs shall not project above the first floor of a building.

b. One (1) detached (monument) sign shall be permitted for businesses/uses located along corridors or sections of corridors with at least four (4) lanes. The sign shall be limited to one-half (1/2) square foot per linear foot of the lot width to a maximum of seventy (70) square feet in area. Maximum permitted height of the detached sign shall be twelve (12) feet. Any detached sign shall be set back from all adjacent public rights-of-way a distance at least equal to the height of the sign.

c. A maximum of two (2) canopy signs shall be permitted for each business but their area shall be counted in the total allowable sign area for the business.

d. The sign may be illuminated but shall not flash, blink or fluctuate. The backlighting of awning containing signage shall not be permitted.

e. Only one interior window sign per business shall be permitted within four (4) feet of the interior face of any window of a building and shall be counted in the total allowable sign area for the business.

4. Litter Abatement Program A litter abatement program acceptable to the Department of Safety and Permits shall be established for each development indicating procedures, pick-up schedule and a contact person.

(Ord. 18,569 § 1 (part), adopted 1/8/98)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Ideas for Planning

We batted around some ideas the other night for the planning process of our Neighborhood

1) A police substation on our side of Audubon Park.

2) A floodwall on the Orleans side of the Monticello Canal.

3) Dark skies lighting.

4) Light rail system down Claiborne Avenue.

5) A streetcar line down Carrollton to connect Xavier University with Tulane and Loyola.

6) Change bustops from ugly oven-like stops to user-friendly tree-landscaped stops.

7) Appropriate commercial development along Apple Street from Dante to Leonidas.

8) No conversion of residentially-zoned properties to commercial.

9) Trees on every major thoroughfare including and particularly Earhart.

9) Redevelopment of Incarnate Word. Should be placed on the Historic Register.

10) No demolition of historic houses in federal historic neighborhood.

11) Create a local historic neighborhood consisting of the boundaries of the Historic Town of Carrollton.

12) Very careful development of high-density housing.

13) Planning for Claiborne/Carrollton. Safe and inviting ways to get from streetcar to Palmer Park.

14) Revitalization of Palmer Park. Perhaps a bandstand.

15) City Gates Artistically inspired structures at the entrances to Orleans Parish at Claiborne and at Oak and Earhart that effectively announce that you are now entering a very special place.

16) Correct traffic flow at Earhart and Carrollton interchange.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Next Meeting

Meeting in City Council Chambers June 28,
7 p.m. (see below)

Please forward to friends, especially the following neighborhoods: Carrollton/ Claiborne//Broadway/Upper St. Charles/Fontainebleau/Mid City.

This is a major issue in how the old Town of Carrollton shall be redeveloped and ultimately, the entire Carrollton Corridor all the way to City Park. The value of our property hinges on retaining the authentic New Orleans architecture facing major thoroughfares.
The possibilities are: beastly or beauty.

*Note the only issue before the council shall be either to grant a variance to Walgreen or not to do so. There is no vote by the council concerning a Grocery Store.

Granting the variance will allow for a suburban designed store with parking facing Carrollton, and the store placed in the rear behind the parking. Carrollton Ave has a design standard which requires the Urban concept of placing the store near Carrollton with the parking behind the store. Upholding this Ordinance is consistent with historic neighborhoods surround by residential property.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Town Hall Meeting

Join Shelley Midura on Wednesday June 21.
Jesuit High School at Banks and Carrollton 7pm
Enter on Banks Street Side.

We will have the opportunity to review plans for the corner of Claiborne and Carrollton, meet with Council Woman Midura and the Developers of Walgreens.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Speaking Out

At a June 28th Town Hall meeting held in City Council Chambers Scott Andrews (on NorthWest Carrollton's board) spoke out on why we deserve better than Walgreens was offering.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Walgreens Town Hall

This past Thursday several members of NorthWest Carrollton, along with residents of the Riverbend carrollton area,attended a meeting with Mr. Darryl Berger, Mr Gordon Kolb and Mr. Marc Robert amoung others.

What we see in the present site plans is a suburban model placed in an urban context. In the past Walgreens had waged a campaign against the Neighborhoods, it worked to the degree that they are still willing to fight this fight with the exact same position

History of the Walgreens Fight

Walgreens is once again requesting to build a Drug Store at Carrollton and Claiborne, and is requesting a variance of the Carrollton Ave. Inner-city Overlay.* There is no firm commitment at this point that a grocery store will ever be built next to it. Those who have attended the June 15th meeting with Shelley Midura, may wish to update us on any progress that was achieved.

History of the Carrollton Residents fight for a grocery store.
1. An open forum sponsored by Uptown Triangle, Carrollton/Riverbend, Upper Carrollton Residents and MARI was held at Xavier where approximately 60 people went to the microphone and each stated they wanted a grocery store at that corner. The meeting was attended by 90 plus residents The Walgreen developer from Houston, their attorney, Councilman Scott Shea, Alex Heaton, Steve Scalise were present. The event, advertised on widely distributed flyers, was designed to tell Walgreen and Councilman Shea that the neighborhood wanted a grocery store.

2.. Picketing at the site with signs that reflected the neighborhood's overwhelming desire for a grocery store rather than another drug store. It was carried by the TV media on more than one occasion.As many recall, who were involved in stopping Walgreen from obtaining a variance of the "Inner City Carrollton Overlay," * the upholding of the Overlay was crucial to the redevelopment of the square, but was not the sole issue. A grocery store for the site had overwhelming neighborhood support for miles around. The position of the neighborhood was to uphold the parking and design requirements of the Overlay and to force the issue of getting a grocery store. Walgreen withdrew their request for a variance and decided to wait out the neighborhood opposition to a variance.(The Overlay addresses “setback” requirements on a major thoroughfare, that is, a structure is to be built near the sidewalk with the parking in the rear. This urban design benefits aesthetics of the streetscape with sensitivity to the surrounding residential properties and in this case Palmer Park as well. It also affords convenience for pedestrian traffic. In contrast, a suburban design has parking near the side walk with the building set back behind the parking lot, e.g. Veterans Blvd. The overlay was signed into an ordinance by Peggy Wilson and recommended by the City Planning Commission as a reaction to some unsightly commercial development that had occurred between Earhardt and I-10.)
3. Petitions numbering approximately 1000 in favor of a grocery store were collected by all neighborhood associations from Broadway and beyond to the Jefferson Parish line and from the Mississippi River to Pritchard Place and Walmsley Ave. Never before had this area collected as many petitions.

4. Thousands of flyers were distributed announcing several neighborhood meetings to obtain input from residents. All neighborhood associations overwhelmingly supported a grocery store on that site, but would not support a variance of the Carrollton Ave. Overlay design ordinance.. The support for a grocery store at that location was also a major topic in neighborhood association newsletters.

5. Architectural plans were drawn up by Rodney Dionisio, an architect, and at the time a board member of Carrollton/Riverbend Residents’ Assoc., indicating that both a Walgreen’s Drug Store and a grocery store within the square with parking could be achieved. The design was in compliance with the Overlay and was exhibited at

several neighborhood meetings. Walgreen refused the offer of the design because they insisted upon building the store behind the parking lot away from Carrollton Ave.

Note: Was told that there shall be another and perhaps even larger redevelopment in the area of Piccadilly and the Carrollton Shopping Center and perhaps even closer to Earhardt. If the residents allow a variance from the Overlay for Walgreen, it shall set a precedent for a waiver of the Overlay from Claiborne to I-10. Shelley Midura needs to be aware of the possibility of an uglier than ever Carrollton Commercial Strip. This is a complex issue, it involves not only a much needed grocery store, but it also involves the beautification of Carrollton Ave. In the 1960’s, the Lower St. Charles Ave. streetscape became urban blight. It went from beautiful historic mansions and oaks to unsightly commercial buildings set back with concrete parking lots in front. It will take much activism to prevent this from happening to Carrollton Ave.. Please support rebuilding the way that Urban Planners design beautiful cities.

Thanks to Marilyn Barbera..She has worked on this project for too many years to count

Friday, June 9, 2006

Walgreens and City Council

This Thursday the first session of the new Orleans City Council was an important day for the Residents of NorthWest Carrollton.They voted to table the ordinance and allow the Neighbors to take part in the process.