Church joins opposition to zoning change in Southdowns
St. Aloysius Church has joined the Southside Civic Association in opposing an application for a zoning change for a property at the corner of Perkins Road and Stuart Avenue from a single-family residence to an infill small planned unit development, or ISPUD.
The owner of the residence, Ben Skillman, says he has operated Skill Real Estate on the west side of Stuart Avenue for 20 years and is applying for the zoning change to allow two psychiatrists to open an office there.
St. Aloysius, which opposes the intent of the application that the city-parish Planning Commission will consider Monday, says if approved, the rezoning will change the character of the neighborhood.
"All you have to do is look at how the next block of Perkins Road, to the east of this property, has been developed, from a simple florist shop to a mixture of commercial uses, including a tattoo parlor," writes pastor Than Vu in a letter to parishioners, explaining the church's opposition. "Even more, I am concerned about the safety and well-being of the children at both St. Aloysius and Southdowns Elementary schools if this proposal is approved."
District 12 Councilman Rodney "Smokie" Bourgeois, whose district includes the disputed property, says he opposes the zoning application and supports the church.
"Southdowns is a very delicate area," Bourgeois says. "There are no mansions in there, but they try to preserve it."
Earlier this month, the Southside Civic Association announced its opposition to the zoning change, saying it is inconsistent with the recently adopted FuturEBR master plan for land use and development.
The Planning Commission acknowledges the area is designated as a residential neighborhood in FuturEBR, but the comprehensive plan allows certain zoning changes to take place.
Skillman says the church is taking the front line against him to prevent bigger changes that might follow any rezoning approval he is granted. "I don't think they're opposing the doctor's office," Skillman says.
You can see the ISPUD application here.
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