Orleans planners endorse limit on concrete plants in Zion City

Residents of the Zion City neighborhood won a preliminary battle Tuesday to block a concrete batching plant from opening in their community.

The New Orleans City Planning Commission voted 7-0 to remove “concrete batching” as a permitted use in light-industrial districts after residents of the Zion City and Gert Town neighborhoods petitioned the city to stop such a facility from opening on South Dupre Street.

Batching plants, where materials such as asphalt or cement are combined with water or compounds like sand before being sent to construction sites, have previously been permitted uses in areas zoned light-industrial, meaning they did not require approval from the planning commission or City Council before being built.

The final decision on the change in zoning rules is up to the council. The Zion City site is in Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell’s district, and she supports the change, so it is expected to pass.

The proposed amendment was prompted by Zion City residents who objected to Landrieu Concrete and Cement Industries’ plan for a facility on South Dupre. Residents said trucks going to and from the plant would damage their streets and the operation itself would diminish air quality in the area.

A handful of residents, some wearing New Zion Civic Preservation Association T-shirts, attended Tuesday’s meeting to express support of the amendment and opposition to batching plants in their area.

“We’ve always lived with businesses on the boundaries of our neighborhood,” said Glenn Dabney, who said the residents are trying to revitalize the area. “But to put a batching plant directly in the heart of our neighborhood would destroy all efforts of what we’re trying to do.”

Under the amendment, which was proposed by a council motion introduced by Cantrell, similar operations would have to receive approval from the planning commission and the council. Residents would have an opportunity to weigh in at public hearings before both bodies.

In addition to restricting concrete batching plants, the planning commission also approved an amendment establishing the Zion City Residential Character Preservation Interim Zoning District and prohibiting the issuance of permits or licenses that would threaten the residential character of the area bounded by South White, Thalia and South Dupre streets and Earhart Boulevard. The interim zoning district will likely remain in place until it is replaced by a similar provision in the city’s revised comprehensive zoning ordinance, which is expected to be adopted sometime next year.

Both measures received unanimous support from the commissioners, several of whom commended residents for calling attention to the issue and pushing to preserve their neighborhood.