Council debates car dealership zoning appeal


By Carolyn Roy,

The biggest controversy at the City Council meeting Monday was over an appeal of a property owner on La. Hwy. 504 opposing what will eventually be two auto dealerships. The property is near the intersection of La. 504 and University Parkway near Interstate 49.

At its last meeting, the City Planning and Zoning Commission approved an application from Kyle Smith to subdivide 31 acres at 1702 Hwy. 504 on which two dealerships will be built. The appeal was filed by Diane Poe who owns property across the highway. The council voted unanimously to deny the appeal.

Poe based her objections on what she termed safety problems because of a blind curve and heavy traffic “24/7.” She said there would be a danger created by vehicles entering and leaving the dealerships as well as noise that would disturb her aging mother for whom she cares. Poe said the application was different than one filed in 2018 that was for one dealership. “It has totally changed,” Poe said.

She said the Smiths were “chasing rabbits.” She requested that La. DOTD do another traffic study since the proposal had changed from when it was first introduced.

Another property owner, Carol White, also objected to the subdivision of the property.

Roger Smith, father of Kyle Smith, who applied to subdivide the property, said Poe had moved in a double-wide mobile home near the curve that was now the most dangerous place. He said the mobile home was the safety issue and the blind curve was on her side of the highway, not where the dealerships will be located. He said La. DOTD cleared right-of-way but Poe would not let them do so on her property. “I’m not chasing rabbits. Your property is the most dangerous. Our property is on the other side of the road,” Smith said. “There’s no way we want to disturb your mother. We have not said anything that is not true as we know it.”

In other business, the council voted to roll forward the property tax millage for 2020. It will result in an additional $70,604 more than last year. There was good news from Finance Director Debbie Miley who reported that sales tax collections ended the fiscal year up 12.9 percent over 2019.

The council voted to end a lease with the Natchitoches Fair Association in favor of a short-term lease. There was a unanimous vote to approve a lease with option to buy a small section of property on Old Robeline Road near The Quad apartments to Emres II. A City substation was once on the property.

The council approved three resolutions:

•Support the Natchitoches Parish Veterans Service Office with an annual payment of $11,182

•Extend contract with Hammerman & Gainer Inc., for one year for claims administration service for a $39,660 service fee

•Authorize compliance with LCDBG Program The next scheduled meeting will be July 27.