Alderman Thom Hamilton.jpg

A group of West Monroe residents launched a volley of concerns at West Monroe officials on Tuesday when the city took up a ordinance that would allow a multi-family development on Montgomery Avenue.

During its regular meeting on Tuesday, the West Monroe Board of Aldermen considered an ordinance to rezone property at 902 Montgomery Avenue from single-family residence to a multi-family residential district.

Brandon Land, with Land Farm Properties LLC, received a favorable review from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to spend $1 million on the new multi-family development.

Five residents objected to the proposed rezoning ordinance.

Margaret Chesney, a resident, told the Board of Aldermen it should be “proactive instead of reactive.” She said she was primarily concerned with property values deteriorating in the area in light of the proposed development.

“I think these older neighborhoods need to be stabilized and made into homes for people to live and feel safe in,” Chesney said. “Traffic problems need to be solved. We have so many issues out there that have been overlooked for too long and they need to be stabilized before we put stuff like that in there.”

Annanias Word, a minister at Freedom Bible Church, echoed Chesney’s concerns. Word said he spoke with fellow residents about a lack of development in the area.

“I’m not against development,” Word said. “My greatest concern was that it was being pointed at senior living, affordable living and Section 8. How would this development, if proposed, actually be a benefit not just to the people moving but to the surrounding community? Also what would be the next step after that for future generations?”

Mayor Staci Mitchell argued in favor of the development and encouraged residents to wait and see improvements.

“That’s just a fact of life,” Mitchell said.

“Again with the city’s neighborhood watch program and the community police we are seeing improvement with code enforcement. We have invested more money in that area over the last 10 years as anywhere else in the city.”

Alderman Thom Hamilton offered a motion to table a vote on the proposed ordinance.

Hamilton and his colleagues agreed to wait until next month to act on the rezoning request.

“The planning and zoning commission voted favorably and we usually go with them because they listen to all parties,” Hamilton said. “With so many people here against it, I want to hear the other side.”

On another front, the Board of Aldermen voted to expand a taxing district along Thomas Road.

Aldermen voted unanimously to approve an expansion of the city’s economic development district—and levying a one-cent sales tax inside the district.

The expanded economic development district would include not only businesses on both sides of Interstate 20 from Well Road to Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux but would also take in businesses that are along Thomas Road.

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