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JP Planning Advisory Board looks to revise zoning rules for Fat City businesses

Metairie, La.- Developers want nothing to stand in the way of the new Fat City. However, some Jefferson Parish officials realized some of the zoning rules they implemented in 2010 are holding back business.

Fat City Franks NOLA opened in the summer.

"We've got good hot dogs," said owner Allen Bryant.

Bryant painted the restaurant the colors of ketchup, mustard and relish, livening up Edenborn Avenue where a gray club known as "The Bar" once stood.

"It used to be commerce didn't come back to Fat City until 10:30, 11 o'clock at night and leave in the morning before the sun came up," said Bryant. "Now, it's an all-day thing. People are walking the streets, coming for lunch, so I think it's working."

While Bryant works out the kinks of his new restaurant, he's learning more about the new parish rules. "The sign for out on the street can only be 8 feet tall and it's got some restrictions to it," Bryant explained.

He'd like to have a mural to showcase his logo, but a mural isn't allowed under strict new zoning ordinances.

It's not the only issue he's run into. Restaurants can only have a certain number of parking spots per square footage of their dining area, for instance, and sidewalk signs have to stay under a certain size.

These are examples of rules that those on the Jefferson Parish Planning Advisory Board now say need to be changed.

"Now we're kind of in the mode where we've had to experience it and make it work, and we're finding some things that just need to be tweaked in our ordinance to make it easier to implement the changes that we had tried to effect several years ago," said Lynne Parker of the Planning Advisory Board.

A new ordinance includes the opportunity for small theaters to move in, so long as none of the movies are "adult" in nature.

"The original mission, of course, of Fat City was to clean it up, make it user-friendly, walker-friendly, clean up the crime and some of the vice that was happening in that area. So, we're really excited about it," said Parker.

The hope is to encourage new businesses while helping those who have already settled in.

"Across the street a new restaurant is opening up, right down the street on the corner a new restaurant's opening up... So now as everybody gets open, the commerce is going to come back to Fat City. And I'm going to be here already," said Bryant.

The Jefferson Parish Planning Advisory Board passed the ordinance on Thursday. It heads next to the Jefferson Parish Council for approval.

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