city council

The New Orleans City Council has approved a major revamp of the city’s zoning plan. The vote came after four years of meetings and several hours of last-minute debate.

On Thursday the New Orleans City Council voted to change the definition of transient vacation rentals. Proponents say the change will make it easier to enforce the existing laws that prohibit short-term vacation rentals.

Janaya Williams / WWNO

Cheers and jeers erupted in city council chambers Thursday afternoon as the council voted “yes” to allowing a hotly contested zoning change that will clear the way for a developer, Perez APC, to build a five-story mixed-use residential property on the former site of the Holy Cross School in the Lower 9th Ward.

Neighborhood residents who fought to force the developer to build within current zoning laws left the meeting disappointed and angry. But supporters of the development, like Eric O’Neal Sr., said they were elated that the project would finally be allowed to move forward.

Tom Arthur

House Speaker Chuck Kleckley is calling a special election in November to fill a vacant state House seat representing part of New Orleans.

Rep. Jared Brossett, a Democrat from New Orleans, resigned from the House of Representatives this week to take an elected seat on the New Orleans City Council.

Kleckley set the special election to fill the House District 97 seat to coincide with the Nov. 4 congressional elections being held around Louisiana. A runoff, if needed, will be held Dec. 6.

Qualifying for candidates is set for Aug. 20 through Aug. 22.

Steve Snowden / <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-1564309/stock-photo-new-orleans-water-meter-cover.html?src=e57-AT2nEvFDogX55filhg-2-24">Shutterstock</a>

Residents and businesses who fail to pay their sanitation fees will have their water service shut off under a law passed Thursday by the City Council. The law was proposed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a way to boost collections and make up lost revenues from uncollected fees. Unpaid trash bills cost the city $8.5 million in 2011.

A newly-elected New Orleans city councilman, whose district includes the Lower 9th Ward, has withdrawn a package of ordinances that would have required tour buses to pay special fees to access the neighborhood.

Councilman James Gray, who took office last month, says he needs more time to research the issue introduced by his predecessor.

Currently, the city has an ordinance in place that bans tour buses from the Lower 9th Ward. It was passed after Hurricane Katrina to keep tour buses from impeding cleanup and recovery efforts when levees failed during the 2005 storm.

Officials with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration have made their pitch to City Council members about a possible funding source to address a problem the city has struggled with since Hurricane Katrina: broken street lights.

The source would be an increased franchise fee charged to Entergy New Orleans — a fee that would be passed on to customers.

The New Orleans City Council is giving a break to bed-and-breakfast owners who are late paying the room tax rate of 50 cents per day for each occupied room.

The Times-Picayune reports that the penalty has often been much more than the amount due.

The late penalty was at least $500. Council President Stacey Head told the council that the tax for a typical B&B averages less than $60 a month.

The New Orleans City Council has rejected a 25-foot height waiver sought by a developer who wants to build an apartment building in Faubourg Marigny.

The Times-Picayune reports developer Sean Cummings said the decision "kills the project."

Without the ability to build the modernistic, six-story building to a height of 75 feet, he said the $20 million project isn't viable.

The council rejected the waiver on a unanimous vote.

The New Orleans City Council has appointed attorney Ernest "Freddie" Charbonnet as the interim replacement for the District E seat vacated last week when Jon Johnson abruptly resigned after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

Charbonnet is a former assistant city attorney now in private practice. The Times-Picayune reports that he received votes from the council's four white members Thursday. Its two black members voted against the appointment.

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