METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - Along North Causeway near 49th Street sits Medical Rehab Accident Injury Center, and the owner's plan to branch out has some nearby residents concerned. A petition drive is now underway.
"Probably that will increase the traffic in this area. As you can see, there are many cars parked on our street as it is," said a neighbor who did not want her name used.
The doctor owns the center is out of town, but the office manager said she had his permission to show us blueprints and color renderings of his vision for the business.
"I could see residential concerns with building a big business like that, but I have to go both ways because there's actually a commercial building across the street behind me," said Gene Geiling, owner of A&G Transmission, which is across 49th Street from the business.
He said his family has been in business since 1954, so obviously he is pro-business. But his concern is over what the proposed rezoning would mean to his business property value down the road.
"A lot of commercial buildings are changing to GO2, which I believe is reducing the value of commercial property because one day it's going to be forced to go to GO2 when it's predominantly more GO2 than commercial," said Geiling.
Stephanie McCormick said she started the petition drive, but stressed that she is not anti-business. Still, she said she does not believe that resident zoning should be changed to benefit one business and said many homeowners were in the dark about the proposed rezoning.
"According to the schematic that was presented to us there's going to be a dumpster slot on our street," a neighbor said.
"This is already commercial fronting Causeway, this is residential, and so the neighboring property is already commercial and GO2, and on the other side already commercial, so it would go to the same depth as the existing commercial and general office," said Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken, who represents that area.
She said the general office designation is for more limited commercial use.
"The business owner is asking for three things. He's asking to change what's commercial and residential into "general office" which is downgrade of some of the property and an intensity of the others," Van Vrancken said.
And she said she has spoken about the dumpster concerns.
"I have talked to neighbors about the dumpster. There won't actually be a dumpster. It's only going to be a tipper cart like for any residence, it's not a commercial dumpster," Van Vrancken said.
She said there would be 19 parking spaces.
Still, the councilwoman has not decided whether to back the proposed zoning changes. However, she said the business owner has already made concessions.
"Neighbors have already made several suggestions, and the business owner has accommodated those suggestions. For example, there will only be ingress and egress from the Causeway Service Road, there'll be no access and exiting from residential streets," Van Vrancken said.
And in terms of traffic concerns, people in the neighborhood said in the past they pushed to have 49th Street made one-way.
"They try to avoid the light at Causeway and West Metairie, and so they come zipping up our street and go around the block," said a resident.
"It's not something that we've dealt with, it's certainly something that I'd be open to exploring," said the councilwoman.
And on the proposed project at hand she said she is still talking to residents and the business owner.
"It's a valid concern to worry about commercial creep. We do look to the neighboring properties, and there is some commercial already to the same depth. We still have an open door, and I will be talking with neighbors as well as the business owner to see if we can find a place to meet in the middle," said Van Vrancken.