A group of Metairie residents has successfully fended off another bid by a Veterans Memorial Boulevard retailer to build a parking lot behind its property near Helios Avenue.
The Jefferson Parish Council voted 7-0 Wednesday to deny a zoning change for the residential lot behind Nordic Kitchens and Baths after nearby residents said it would amount to “commercial creep” from the busy retail corridor strip into their neighborhood south of Veterans.
It’s not the first time the retailer has sought to add parking by incorporating the lot into its operations. This time, the company pursued a less intense zoning designation and said it would erect two fences to shield the lot from the surrounding neighbors.
Jeff Charlet, who represented the business during the meeting, said the lot’s design would prevent traffic from affecting the neighborhood and there would be landscaped setbacks.
He said the parking lot would allow the company to continue to expand the business, benefiting the entire area and contributing to the “amazingly beautiful transformation along Veterans.”
Neighbor Carl Drichta, however, called the aesthetic changes offered up “lipstick on a pig” and an attempt to “tie it up with a decorative bow and sell it to someone who doesn’t know better.”
“A pig is a pig,” he said. “Would any of you want a parking lot to be put in your neighborhood? I don’t think so.”
Cyril Burck, one of 50 residents who signed a petition against the rezoning request, warned the council that approval would send a signal to other Veterans Boulevard businesses to start snapping up residential lots behind them for expansion.
“Don’t let good neighborhoods disappear by allowing this development,” Drichta said, adding that Hesper Avenue and Bonnabel Boulevard — each a block away from Helios — are prime examples of residential streets suffering from commercial creep.
Alton Wilson, vice president of the Bonnabel Civic Association, said the proposed fences — 6 feet and 7 feet tall — would obstruct law enforcement from seeing into the neighborhoods.
Although Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng — whose district includes the site — said she thought the landscaping and other concessions would make the lot blend in aesthetically with the neighborhood more than it does now, she said she couldn’t recommend approval of a project with so much opposition.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder