The motion to create an interim zoning district passed in a 4-2 vote during Thursday’s city council meeting. Now plans for the controversial Tulane University Stadium will first have to go through the city planning committee, a public hearing, and then back to council before the university can break ground.
“It’s unfair, it’s discriminatory, it’s anti-development and it has unintended consequences that people hadn’t thought about,” Tulane University President Scott Cowen said.
The sports complex that is currently in the design phase includes 30-thousand seats on campus; where the practice field is currently located. The I.Z.D. was proposed because neighbors near the university have voiced opposition. Now that the motion has passed, a thorough study will be conducted about how the stadium will impact the neighborhood.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions and now is a good time to put a study in because it will be a number of months before they’re ready to begin construction, early next year actually,” Coucilwoman Susan Guidry said.
Guidry says the I.Z.D. has university and college construction requirements that mirror the new comprehensive zoning ordinance that’s currently being drafted.
“So this is the future, we’re just asking for it to come up a little sooner because the stadium is such a large project that will have a large impact,” Guidry said.
“Right now we should be following current law. There’s no excuse to circumvent current law and right now that project can be built on our campus without a variance,” Cowen said.
Neighbors who support the project think the I.Z.D is nothing more than red tape to delay the stadium project. Guidry says that is not so.
“My plan is simply to make sure that the design and the parking and traffic all that is studied carefully and is done in such a way it has the least amount of impact on the neighborhood,” Guidry said.
University leaders say they are committed to the project and will continue with stadium plans. Council members say they will do everything possible to make sure the interim zoning district process does not delay the project.