Council contemplates proposed apartment complex

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By Carolyn Roy, carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

Objections to a proposed 40-unit apartment complex at 1909 Texas St., dominated most of the City Council meeting Monday. By a vote of 4-3, the City Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application from Madison Pierce to rezone the 4.25 acres on Texas, near its intersection with Nolley Road, from R-1 one family residence to R-3 multiple family residence.

The application was approved with the stipulation that a wooden privacy fence be erected adjacent to Nolley Road and that the fire department recommendation of adding a fire hydrant be met. The item was introduced at the City Council meeting with the final vote scheduled at the July 23 meeting. Realtor Barry Guillet spoke first saying there was a demand for the multi-family rental units that would be run “hands-on” by Pierce who would have “boots-on-the-ground” management. He said Pierce had a history of maintaining his property developments.

Guillet said there were several examples of multi-family rental units operating successfully in single-family residential areas such as Fleur de Lis and Indian Summer. “They can coexist in a single-family area.” Guillet said the units will be at fair market rent. They will range from one-three bedrooms with rent starting at $500-$600 for a one bedroom.

According to the plot plan submitted to the planning commission, there will be five, two-story buildings with a maximum of 40 units. There will be 28 two-bedroom units at 1,050 square feet; and 12 three-bedroom units at 1,400 square feet each. There will be eight storage units.

Terry and Deborah Bechtel own a lot on Nolley Road where they intend to build a retirement home. He listed “drag-down” features to property values as cemeteries (12.3 percent), homeless shelters (12.7 percent) , strip clubs (14.7 percent), bad schools (22.2 percent) and high concentration of renters (13.8 percent). He said an apartment complex would reduce the value of the single-family homes, some of which on Nolley Road are valued at a quarter-of-of a million dollars. Bechtel said he suspected most of the occupants would be students. “I love students. But you know what happens when they are not in class.” Bechtel said there would be at least 80 cars and additional noise. “It’s not a good idea…I’m against it.”

Also objecting to the complex was Thomas Elkins who lives at 2004 Nolley Road. He also listed additional vehicles, trash, noise and wear and tear on the road. He said a majority of the people on Nolley Road were opposed. “I’d appreciate your consideration for the people who live there.”

Gary McDonald lives at 1903 Nolley Road. “Do the math,” he said referring to people, cars and traffic. He said there was no way 40 or 50 units would benefit the residential neighborhood. “We are rural. Find rural property to put the apartments on. We’re certainly against it.”

Also speaking against the rezoning was Marie LaCour who lives at 1904 Nolley Road. “I worked hard for my house. I don’t want anyone tearing up my neighborhood.”

Director of Planning and Zoning Juanita Fowler said the proposed zoning passed by a majority vote of the planning and zoning commission. She sent letters to more than 20 property owners but only three were at the council meeting to object. She mentioned that condominiums on Nolley Road had additional residential zoning and that the Salim law offices had B-1 or business zoning. Fowler said there was no access to the proposed apartments from Nolley Road but instead from the highway. She said that Pierce was not certain there would be 40 units, but 40 was the upper limit. She also said there was a thorough discussion of the project at the planning commission meeting.

While most of the discussion was about the rezoning for the apartment complex, there were two other zoning issues on the agenda.

215 Williams Ave.
Site of future lawyer’s office

The first was to rezone 215 Williams Ave. from R-1 one family residence to R-2 special exception to operate a legal office. The application was from David Scott Kendrick.

640 Bossier St.
Site of 4 unit apartments

The second was to rezone 640 Bossier St. from R-2 multiple family residence to R-3 multiple family residence to construct a four-unit, two-story apartment building. Attorney Vincent Cofield represented applicant James Melvin Clark. Cofield said the lot is at the corner of Bossier and Caspari and adjacent to the lot where a funeral home once stood. The complex will be a total of 13,500 square feet with four units at 940 square feet each with one and one-half baths. Clark hopes to revitalize the area and believes the units will be suitable for the elderly and disabled.

The council passed three resolutions, each with unanimous votes. The first was to appoint Gil Gilson to fill the unexpired term of Marcus Jones on the Natchitoches Airport Advisory Commission. Gilson is director of capital outlay at Northwestern. His term begins immediately.

The second resolution was to approve Change Order No. 1 for $57,277 from Progressive Construction on the St. Denis Water Line Replacement and Street Rehabilitation. It takes the total contract to $850,797.

The third was to apply for a grant from US DOTD in the Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program. Mayor Lee Posey said it was a long shot at securing funds for improvements to Blanchard Road that is near a proposed bypass road around Natchitoches. Congress appropriated $1.5 billion to be awarded by the Dept. of Transportation for National Infrastructure Investments to address needs of rural areas.