Questions about whether there is enough room for patrons to park outside a planned hookah lounge prompted the Zachary City Council on Tuesday to delay granting the business a permit to sell alcohol.
The council tabled April Scott’s request for an alcohol permit for Cloud 9 Hookah Lounge, which would be located on La. 19 north of Church Street. The matter will come before the council again at its next meeting, which is scheduled Jan. 9.
Council members swiftly approved a request to change the zoning of the lounge property at 4800 La. 19 from business park to commercial, a classification that allows alcohol sales. But the permit request — and concerns about parking, security and noise — spurred a lengthy discussion that took up much of the council’s hourlong meeting, its last of 2017.
The lounge would share parking areas with several other businesses, including a popular restaurant and an automotive business, whose owners say the lots are already crowded.
City planner Amy Schulze said the lounge needs to have 48 parking spaces, per development code requirements. Schulze said she estimates only about 40 spaces, including some in gravel areas, would be available.
Scott, who said she had taken her own measurements of the parking areas, countered that 55 spaces — more than necessary — would be available.
Council members raised concerns about lounge customers leaving their vehicles along busy La. 19 or on residential Rankin Street, which runs behind the businesses. Owners of businesses near the planned lounge told the council they too are worried about potential problems.
Dana Tucker, of Tucker Seafood, said parking is often at capacity, especially when her restaurant serves crawfish.
“We have to share, and there’s nothing to share. I guess it’s whoever gets there first. I literally have people parking at Winn-Dixie in crawfish season,” she said, referring to the grocery store across La. 19 from the restaurant.
Eileen Tullier, who works at a tax preparation office in the area, said she doesn’t want clients — many of whom are elderly — to have to park far away and walk to her building, especially at night.
“It’s nothing for me to be there with clients at 9 to 10 o’clock at night” during tax season, she said. “Where are they going to park?”
Brent Diebold, of All Pro Tint and Graphics, expressed concerns about parking as well as safety.
“We work on some very high-end cars,” Diebold said.
Scott said she intends to hire Zachary police officers to work extra-duty details “to make sure the parking lot is calm and tame and doesn’t have loitering.”
She also noted the lounge mostly would operate at hours when neighboring businesses are closed. She plans for the lounge to be open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays, and 6 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The lounge would be closed on Mondays.
Council members asked Scott to have a professional draw some parking plans for her and bring that information to the Jan. 9 meeting, which she agreed to do.
In other action, the council:
- Approved a site plan for a retail development near the intersection of High Street and Church Street that would include a dry cleaner and a pool supply store.
- Approved a garbage and recycling contract with Waste Management. Mayor David Amrhein said monthly rates will increase from $18.16 to about $21, and residents will get new recycling bins.