(Donna Price / American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, March 21, 2014 11:48 AM
A request for a minor conditional-use permit, a possible RV park on Fitzenreiter Road and a handful of disapproving residents resulted in the city’s most recent look at business in north Lake Charles.
Only a week after Jerry Jones of the Lake Charles North Redevelopment Authority spoke with city officials about the goals of his organization and what needs to be done to bring business into the area, the council spent Wednesday listening to both sides of a dispute over a possible RV park in the area Jones and his associates are focused on.
Tom Baehr of Lake Charles made the request for the permit needed to construct the RV campground area. At the meeting, Baehr provided the council with pictures and brochures of the proposed park. He also showed them letters of support, along with a list of businesses that would benefit from its construction.
Charlie Snead with Flavin Realty spoke in support of Baehr and his project. He said Baehr had taken the proper steps to be allowed to open the RV park and that if the decision was made to not allow him to do so, it would cast a disparaging light on the process of opening new businesses in that area.
“What does this tell businesses that come to our town? Buy the land, play by the rules and then we’re going to kick you out? What kind of message are you guys sending out?” Snead said.
Van Seneca attended the meeting as the legal representative of a resident living close to where the proposed RV park was to be opened. He said opening the park in a place known to be strictly residential could throw off the dynamic of the area.
“This is a residential neighborhood,” Seneca said. “You’re going to destroy it by allowing a trailer park, an RV park at that.”
After a few rounds of back and forth between the supporters and those against the project, the council followed the zoning commission’s lead and denied the permit request, shutting down the possibility of an RV park being placed in that area.
Near the beginning of the meeting, Baehr pointed out to the council how the city needed business in the north Lake Charles area. Even though he didn’t attend the meeting, Jones said the RV park was not what he had in mind in terms of stimulating growth in that part of the city.
“That’s not what I was envisioning as a business,” Jones said. “The people in that area are excited for something new, something they haven’t seen in a while. When you talk about bringing something like that in, it’s not surprising that there was opposition.”
Jones said the focus on business by the authority will happen in two aspects. The first would begin with small businesses and eventually end by not only serving the north Lake Charles area, but also the residents in Moss Bluff.
“We’re trying to support the businesses there. That will be through partnering with agencies helping those small businesses in that area to grow,” Jones said.
“We also want more places for food, restaurants, quality retail commercial development.”