Good neighbors vs. good business

Published 8:32 am Monday, November 10, 2014

It is most unfortunate that neighbors were pitted against each other over the rezoning of the old Coney Flowers American Legion Post for a reception Hall at 544 East Ave.

On the surface, the request to rezone the property from an A-3 Residential to B-Business license seemed innocuous enough, but public comment over the rezoning at the last two City Council meetings proved anything but.

The Rev. Theodore Newman and reception hall owners Louis and Doris Dawson were the major players in the controversy. As a resident of the neighborhood, Newman was within his rights to be concerned over the rezoning question. Newman brought up questions of excess noise, trash and parking problems.

Doris Dawson, on the other hand, said she simply wanted a place where neighbors can get together and talk and be entertained. She said at October’s council meeting that if the establishment indeed proved detrimental to the neighborhood that she would shutter the doors herself.

Newman was outnumbered by those who supported the ordinance.

After much back-and-forth discussion, by a 4-1 vote the City Council approved the rezoning during Wednesday’s meeting.

District B Councilman Michael O’Ree did his due diligence by going around the neighborhood and speaking to the people who were most affected by the rezoning. It was plain to see just how much of a toll it took on him as he wrestled with the rezoning question, wanting to do the right thing by everybody.

It’s a shame that some sort of compromise can’t be worked out here. If the Dawsons do actually want to be good neighbors, maybe they’ll agree to set hours for the establishment and hire their own security as Councilman Teddy Drummond suggested. If not, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Whatever the case, it’s sad it came down to this. In a financially-challenged city such as Bogalusa, new businesses should be a welcome sight, but not if it comes at the expense of that business’s neighbors.