WAL-MART WOES: PPC to vote on legislation designed to stop or delay constructionJan 26th, 2011 | By Michelle Provencher | Category: news
“We’re working on shutting this large project down,” said Councilman Keith Hinkley, District 2, about the series of ordinances that were introduced at the last Plaquemines Parish Council meeting that would block – or at least temporarily halt – the proposed shopping center in Belle Chasse from moving forward.
The shopping center, dubbed “The Belle Chasse Village Shopping Center,” is being developed by Realm Realty, and is set to include a Wal-Mart grocery and department store.
The property Realm Realty has their sight set on is at the corner of Woodland Highway and Highway 23, adjacent to the SpringWood Estates subdivision.
Also at that intersection, is a recently opened shopping development with a fitness center and several restaurants. While they met the necessary requirements to build, Hinkley said they have some of the same issues he believes the Wal-Mart retail area will bring: traffic and drainage problems.
“That’s an 114,000 square foot development,” said Hinkley. “I think we failed at that development.”
Hinkley has drawn up legislation to limit the construction of commercial establishments larger than 25,000 square feet in Belle Chasse, and has introduced a moratorium to prohibit the creation of new retail stores in District 2 south of the Industrial Canal, District 3 and part of District 4 north of Russell Drive until Dec. 31, 2011 or the completion of the Master Plan.
The Comprehensive Master Plan (CMP) is essentially a roadmap that dictates the future of the parish in terms of infrastructure and quality of life. The CMP is in the works, being fine tuned by their group of organizers, the steering committee.
The CMP project engineer, Troy Loetzerich, said the plan is not going to single out specific stores – namely Wal-Mart – but it will make recommendations that pertain to land use.
There are still two steering committee meetings left, as well as six open houses where parish residents can review the plan and make comments. The open houses will be scheduled after a final draft of the plan is done. This causes a floating timetable for finishing and adopting the CMP, but it is anticipated to be done in late Spring 2011.
However, even if the construction moratorium and other shopping center road blocks are voted into effect at the council’s next meeting, they may not apply to “The Belle Chasse Village Shopping Center.”
Realm Realty submitted their application for a permit on Jan. 10, meaning the process has begun prior to passage of Hinkley’s legislation, thus excluding the project.
There was previously a moratorium on construction in Belle Chasse that Hinkley introduced last summer, but it expired on Dec. 31, 2010, leaving a window for Realm Realty to apply in.
Hinkley said he plans to have the ordinances’ start date retroactively extended to Jan. 1.
“I’m going to bring it back to January 1,” said Hinkley. “What I’m doing is going to affect what this application is right here.”
Historically, Plaquemines Parish has been resistant to national chain food and retail stores entering its peninsula. The few fast food restaurants that line Belle Chasse Highway today only began to spring up in the 1980s, and the parish currently has no chain pharmacies, nor national grocery stores.
In the case of Realm Realty’s Belle Chasse Village Shopping Center, at least for Hinkley, the defiance continues, no matter the financial gain in tax revenue.
“We’re not going to be blinded by money.”