Harahan Mayor Tina Miceli on Friday vetoed two ordinances passed this month by the City Council, one that would allow a local restaurateur to turn a Jefferson Highway plantation home into a Creole eatery and another that would give the police chief the authority to approve or disapprove expenses charged to his department.
The latter was passed with a veto-proof margin of 4-1.
However, the zoning change that would allow Kevin Marrone to buy a plantation home at Jefferson Highway and Carolyn Drive and turn it into the Soniat Plantation restaurant passed only 3-2, indicating the veto is likely to be upheld unless a council member has a change of heart.
Council members Craig Johnston, whose district includes the four-lot parcel, and Sue Benton were the two members who voted to block the proposed $1 million project.
Marrone made concessions in his plan to increase parking spaces, restrict access to the site except from Jefferson Highway and retain the trees on the grounds. He also said he planned to purchase the house behind the building to act as a buffer for the neighborhood.
Miceli said that while she recognized his willingness to work with city officials and residents on Carolyn Drive, “neighborhood concerns must prevail.”
“The proposed restaurant would alter the ambiance and tranquility of the neighborhood,” she wrote, adding that another key reason was Police Chief Tim Walker's “assertion that he will not likely direct any of his manpower to police matters that may impact nearby residents,” apparently referring to possible complaints about noise, parking or the like.
Marrone could not be reached for comment Friday.
As for the ordinance related to the Police Department budget, Miceli called its language “broad and overreaching.”
Walker has objected vociferously to the mayor’s decision to charge his department for legal, accounting and other expenses she says the city incurs because of the Police Department, saying it violates his authority over the department’s budget.
He has said he has been charged upwards of $60,000 this year alone for such expenses, and a task force assembled by the City Council recommended the ordinance last week over the objections of Miceli and City Attorney Gilbert Buras.
Giving Walker veto power over such expenses, Miceli wrote Friday, would prevent city employees and contract professionals from doing their work in a timely manner.
“Clearly stated, the Police Department should have to absorb its pro-rata share of expenses for services, including but not limited to accounting, auditing, legal and even engineering projects,” she said.