The Jefferson Parish Council has been sued over its decision to reject plans for a gas station on a portion of the former Hope Haven orphanage site in Marrero.
RaceTrac Petroleum Inc. and the property’s owner, the Marrero Land and Improvement Association, argue in the suit that the council had no valid reason to reject their proposal to build a 24-hour gas station at Wichers Drive and Barataria Boulevard. They note that the project was endorsed by the parish Planning Department as well as its advisory board.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, accuses the Parish Council of abusing its discretion and violating the plaintiffs’ rights to due process and equal protection under the law. It asks Judge Stephen Grefer to reverse the council’s denial and let the gas station plans move forward.
Council members rejected the plan at a meeting Jan. 27. Councilman Paul Johnston, whose district includes the site, said he opposed it because it would have required the removal of a handful of oak trees that were planted in the 1920s. He also said his constituents felt the plan for a gas station didn’t fit the aesthetics of the area.
A number of residents at the meeting made similar comments, also pointing out the traffic they said a gas station would bring to an otherwise quiet neighborhood.
The lawsuit says none of those concerns were valid reasons for rejecting the proposal. It points out that the land in question is private property and says the Planning Department decided the plans met all of the parish’s regulations and guidelines.
The plaintiffs said they would preserve 18 of the live oaks on the site and replace any that are cut down.
Johnston declined to comment on the lawsuit.