City Council meeting packed over effort to put tow yard in residential area

Published 1:25 pm Friday, May 17, 2024

Citizens of District A packed the Lake Charles City Council Chambers on Wednesday divided over intentions to put a tow yard in a residential area.

All About Towing, LLC, is a tow yard located at 2425 Medora St.
The owner of All About Towing, Marcus Deville said that he and his wife were seeking to move the business about three houses down the south side of the 2500 block of Medora Street. They have outgrown the current location, he said, which has been rented for 17 years.

“We’re just trying to stay in our community, stay in our neighborhood and purchase some property that had a for sale sign”

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He expressed they wanted to purchase the lot on the 2500 block of Medora and turn it into a “beautified tow yard.”

Deville requested that the city’s official zoning map be changed from a Neighborhood Zoning District to a Business Zoning District. In addition, he applied for a Major Conditional Use Permit to turn the property into the tow yard’s new location.

After hearing testimonies from Deville and opposition in early April, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted to deny the Major Conditional Use Permit with a vote of one to three.   

Residential homes, commercial properties and Whispering Hope Senior Living Complex border the lot Deville wanted to move his business to.

At the council meeting on Wednesday, those opposed to the tow yard’s move were concerned about how close it would be to Whispering Hope, stating that it would be disruptive, unsightly and bring possible environmental impacts to the residential neighborhood.

Calcasieu Council On Aging Executive Director Jacqueline Green explained that they have curated a “peaceful living environment” at Whispering Hope, which was built in 2012 with a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The grant application stipulated that the living complex had to be built in a residential neighborhood without any negative environmental aspects to receive funding from HUD.

“It’s going to bring some environmental impacts. I don’t know how it can’t,” she said.

Deville explained that All About Towing is a police impound – which are often located in residential neighborhoods – that responds to car wrecks and works for the city to move cars off of adjudicated properties and abandoned cars.

He said that while wrecked cars leak fluids, they take measures to soak up the oil, and that local law enforcement “does a wonderful job” of disconnecting batteries to ensure the cars are safe to be stored on tow yards.

Additionally, the cars brought to the lot have a 60 to 90-day turnaround, but most wrecked cars with insurance are on the lot for only a week, he said.

He also noted that All About Towing has senior citizen neighbors at their current location.

“We’re looking to be good neighbors, or even better neighbors, than we are now.”

Those who showed up in support of the ordinance expressed that the need for Black-owned businesses in North Lake Charles is great, and said that Deville is a prime example of an African-American man building his own business.

Everyone in opposition expressed their respect for both Deville’s character and importance in North Lake Charles.

District A Council-
member Ronnie Harvey agreed and commended Deville for his efforts to expand his business.

“I don’t think there is anyone in this room that can say Marcus is a bad guy. I for one will attest that he is an awesome guy. … It is tough for an African-American man to not only thrive, but survive in North Lake Charles.”

Harvey ultimately
said that he would uphold the Planning and Zoning Commission’s decision.

The council unanimously voted to align themselves with the commission and deny the zoning map amendment and Major Conditional Use Permit.