In what was not unexpected, the first appeal of a zoning case under the Shreveport Unified Development Code (UDC) has recently been filed.
A special exception use for the sale of liquor was approved by the Shreveport Caddo Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) for 327 Kings Highway. This property is on the southeast corner of Kings and Gilbert.
The site was formerly a Circle K convenience store. This store was closed when a new store opened on the opposite corner.
Under the UDC the sale of beer and wine is allowed at this site. A special exception use is required for the sale of high alcohol beverages.
Surrounding neighbors appealed the MPC decision to the Shreveport City Council.
In what was an very unusual vote, the appeal by the neighbors failed on a tie 3-3 vote.
Council member Stephanie Lynch was absent from the meeting due to a foot injury.
Those that voted to grant the appeal to disallow the sale of liquor were Councilmen Jeff Everson, Oliver Jenkins and Michael Corbin. Those voting to deny the appeal, and thus allow hard liquor sales, were Council members Jerry Bowman, Willie Bradford and James Flurry.
Suit was filed in Caddo District court by Tom Arceneaux on behalf of Gladstone Area Parnership, Swan Apartments and Ashley Atkins.
The named defendants are the City of Shreveport (the proper party for suits against Council votes), the applicant for the special exception use (a Bernie Woods entity), and the land owner Chris Casten.
Caddo Judge Mike Pitman was assigned to hear the case.
The plaintiffs claim that the neighborhood will be adversely affected by the use of the Circle K property for the sale of liquor.
The lawsuit alleges that the special exception use fails two of the criteria for such permits.
The first is that the use will not endanger the public health, safety or welfare of the neighborhood.
The second is that the sale of liquor is not compatible with the general land use of adjacent properties and other property within the immediate vicinity.
Factors cited in the petition include: no investment or upgrade for the planned existing facility; the lack of free standing alcohol outlets in the vicinity; the residential uses that back up to the site; and private investment in the area to upgrade the area.
The lawsuit also states that the Council vote was inconsistent with a prior vote in 2017 dealing with a special exception use for the old Don’s Seafood Restaurant location.
If successful the MPC vote granting the liquor sale exception will be overturned as well as the Council vote.
In such event only the sale of beer and wine will be permissible at this location. In such event Bernie Woods will probably not open any store at this location.
This case is very significant because the UDC has definite criteria for special exception uses. How the court interprets these requirements will be meaningful for future appeals from the Council.
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