City council approves zoning change for Bywater affordable housing complex

City council approves zoning change for Bywater affordable housing complex

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - After hours of comment from the public, the city council voted in favor of a zoning change for a mixed-income housing complex on Royal Street in the Bywater neighborhood.

The project is proposed by the Housing Authority of New Orleans, and the process is not over.

Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer whose district includes that area was successful in getting her colleagues to approve a “modified zoning change,” which she said was needed for more transparency and public input.

"If we pass this as what was proposed there would be no opportunity to hold HANO or the developer accountable,” said Palmer.

Palmer’s move limits the number of units to 143 instead of the nearly 190 the original zoning change proposal would have allowed. Despite that, HANO had previously stated that it only wanted to build a multi-story building with 136 units.

The majority of the units will be for affordable housing.

Under the city’s new inclusionary zoning laws, HANO will have to continue to engage with the public on the design of the building and address concerns about traffic and drainage.

"This removes the uncertainty of changing plans and of having unsustainable numbers of additional units should this project not move forward…All of these plans will now have to be clearly laid out for all stakeholders to see and voted on by the council for final approval,” said Palmer.

Before the vote, opponents of the new housing complex held up signs urging the council to delay action on the project.

"We see that this building is totally out of scale. We see that it is detrimental to the neighborhood,” said Sandra Stokes, of the Louisiana Landmarks Society.

Supporters said the city desperately needs more affordable housing.

"This road needs to lead to approval and completion of this development so that working-class and African-American families can again have access to the Bywater neighborhood,” said Cashauna Hill, of GNO Fair Housing Action Center.

Council members said people of all income levels deserve a chance to live in all areas of the city.

"All of these plans will now have to be clearly laid out for all stakeholders to see and voted on by the council for final approval,” said Councilman Jared Brossett.

A final vote by the council may not come until the fall of this year.

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