Residents of East Bridge Street were upset that a machine shop was opening in their neighborhood. The owner applied to re-zone the property from residential R1 to light industry,al which could influence more development in their backyards.
The Breaux Bridge City Council discussed the issue at its meeting Tuesday. Planning and Zoning delivered its recommendation for the council to deny a re-zoning.
Randall Lanclos, owner of Ragin' Machine, addressed the council and revealed that he is surveying a new property. To prevent a loss in money and business, he asked to continue operating in his current location until the move is complete.
Councilman for District E, Gary Champagne said he understood that Lanclos invested time and money in the business, but he also knew residents invested in their community.
"In order for no one to lose completely and for everyone to walk away," Champagne began, "we have offered a compromise."
Champagne said allowing the community to stay zoned residential would prevent further issues.
"There's a potential for anyone to come into the city of Breaux Bridge and want to open any kind of business that want."
Champagne recommended issuing a variance. Starting December 1st, Lanclos would have 6 months to relocate. During this time, Lanclos can operate his business as needed. If at the end of that time, Lanclos need more time, the council agreed to allow an extension.
Residents Concerned Over Industrial Neighbor
Concerned residents in Breaux Bridge are fighting to make sure their neighborhood doesn't end up as the back yard for a machine shop. Residents on East Bridge Street are worried that a machine shop could cause problems for their residential neighborhood. The company's president says, there is no need for residents to be upset or worried.
The company, originally operated as an oil field survey company. Rusty Clark, owned the building since 1982, before many of the current homes were built. When homes started populating the streets, and city limits were moved, the business was grand fathered into the current residential area.
Clark sold the company to Randoll Lanclos in 2008. Lanclos continued to operate the Rusty Clark Survey Company until August of this year, where he decided to diversify and open Ragin' Machines.
Lanclos says he has been cleaning and moving equipment into the building since August, until he was approached by a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission
"They told me I need to apply to be re-zoned as industrial, in order to continue to operate," he explained.
It was then he applied to be re-zoned.
Residents became concerned about the quality of life and the value of their homes, if a machine shop opened in their neighborhood.
"This is zoned a residential area," one resident said. "To put a business that is light industrial smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood is clearly a no brainier. They shouldn't be here."
That resident explained how she started a petition to stop the business.
"I probably have 50 to 60 signatures. Everyone is against it."
A hearing has been set for November, where city officials will decide whether or not to rezone the property. Until then, Ragin' Machines is not allowed to operate. Some residents said they have seen employees and other activity that leads them to believe the company is already illegally operating. Lanclos says, that isn't the case.
"We are not acting illegally. We are setting up and cleaning and getting ready to operate."
David Luke, another resident, said it is unfair that any activity take place in the building until the public hearing is held.
"Now, it's going to be that much harder to remove them. That's a problem I have."
Luke and other community members believe that the machine shop will de-value their homes. Lanclos said, he doesn't understand why that would be a concern.
"I don't see how it could de-value anything. It would only bring , to me, more value. It would bring an economic impact to the parish, to the city, as well as additional jobs."
One resident said she thinks it would be hard to raise a family and, in the future, sell her property.
"No one is going to want to live in an area, with a machine shop literally in their back yard."
Lanclos said he doesn't want to cause any trouble, and encourage residents to express their concerns to him.
"Any concern they have, I will address. I'll even put up a ten foot fence if they want. I want to help my guys ( employees) and their families and I want to help this neighborhood."
The public hearing is set for November 6th at City Hall in Breaux Bridge at 6pm.