A contentious case of a zoning violation for illegal parking became even more contentious this week at a city hearing when the property owner accused the city of selective enforcement, driven by preservationists.
After some verbal sparring, the city hearing officer put off any decision on the apartment complex at the corner of Prytania and Constantinople streets for three months. Likewise, the hearing officer delayed action on six other cases involving the illegal paving of yards to accommodate parking.
The discussions took place at the regular administrative hearings on zoning and code-enforcement violations, called One Stop hearings by the city.
At issue this week was the post-Katrina paving of a front and side yard on Prytania, which took place without permission. Part of the concrete has been removed, but some remains.
Illegal paving can cause drainage and flooding problems for neighbors, which is one reason why permission is required.
Attorney Joel Loeffelholz and his client, property owner Henry Rosenblat, appeared before hearing officer Lee Phillips.
Loeffelholz said no one parks on the side pavement, but he asked that it be allowed to remain. However, two cars were parked in that area the day before the hearing.
The city filed suit against the property owner regarding his unwillingness to remove the concrete. Loeffelholz said a decision by Phillips would be inappropriate because the case is pending in Civil District Court.
Loeffelholz cited “preservationists and people like that ” as the source of the complaints and asked Phillips why the city is going after his client.
Phillips pointed out at least six other properties on the agenda for the same violation, and he suggested the city was pursuing cases in which property owners are ignoring the decisions of other government boards. The Board of Zoning Adjustments had already denied a request by Rosenblat to keep the pavement.
Phillips said Loeffelholz didn’t provide a copy of the lawsuit, so Phillips couldn’t determine whether it was the same case. But out of caution, Phillips delayed the administrative hearing 90 days.
City attorney Christy Harowski made it clear what the choices are for this particular property owner: “You can agree to take up the paving and not park there, or go to court.”
Loeffelholz chose court.