Oct. 6, 2015 12:09 AM
[Editor's Note: District 5 candidate Monique Koll's responses were added to this Q&A Tuesday afternoon.]

In mid-September, The Independent sent a questionnaire to candidates seeking seats on the City-Parish Council — incumbents and challengers, 17 candidates total. Thirteen questions were asked of the candidates, ranging from general queries about big issues facing the parish to specific questions on topics such as tax increment financing districts and Downtown zoning.

We’ve gotten responses back from about half of them, and as we get more responses we’ll continue to compile them and alert readers when new responses have come in. New to the responses today is District 2 candidate Charlotte Clavier, who is challenging two-term incumbent Jay Castille.

We will group candidates by district to promote ready comparisons of candidates’ position by the voters who will elect them (and alphabetically within districts). We’ve only lightly edited for clarity the candidates’ responses; some use bullet points while others stick to prose, some are lengthy as others are brief, etc., but otherwise the responses are as we received them. Because many of the responses are lengthy, we’re running the questionnaire in installments. Part 3, today, concerns Downtown Lafayette and how changes to zoning might both encourage development and promote quality nightlife opportunities for residents.

Is there a happy medium for Downtown Lafayette that balances free-market principles with public safety when it comes to nightlife, specifically bars?


JAY CASTILLE (INCUMBENT, DISTRICT 2):

The Downtown area has some safety issues that are caused by the bars. I have always said the bar owners need to step up and admit their businesses are causing the safety issues that are occurring. They should pay for the extra security that is needed to protect their patrons. The City of Lafayette has a responsibility to protect its residents throughout the city. What’s happening downtown in a four block area is an unusual occurrence, that’s when it becomes the responsibility of the bars owners to pay extra for police protection.

CHARLOTTE CLAVIER (DISTRICT 2)
:
The solution is RESPECT – downtown residents, bar owners, public safety and those frequenting these establishments need to work together so nightlife doesn’t interfere with resident’s ability to live comfortably.

PAT LEWIS (DISTRICT 3):

The happy medium could only come from providing more police protection for the night hours. I think that’s the most responsible and beneficial way to guarantee that free market principles are not infringed upon while still keeping our citizens safe.


JOHN PETERSEN (DISTRICT 3):

Absolutely, and I’m confident we’ll find that balance if we seek out best practices and work together to envision what kind of atmosphere we want in our downtown district. However, it’s crucial to maintain a balanced playing field and remember that government’s role is to support the private sector.

MONIQUE KOLL (DISTRICT 5):
Yes.


ALICIA CHAISSON (DISTRICT 6):

I do not believe that bars should pay a security fee to help pay for the downtown weekend police detail. It is in the whole city’s interest that downtown is safe on the weekends. I often attend events at Cite des Arts on Vine Street near Jefferson. When I leave a play around 10:30pm, I am on high alert while walking to my car. I believe that improving the illumination and beautification of that section of Jefferson Street would increase safety and pride of place, leading to a calmer environment. Strategically places security cameras could help mitigate the cost of police patrol. The heightened police presence and closing of Jefferson Street creates an atmosphere of impending danger and intimidation. In my opinion, that pressurized environment leads to increase in tension and people behave as they are expected to behave. If police were off their horses and speaking casually with citizens, it would construct a relationship of trust rather than animosity.

BRUCE CONQUE (DISTRICT 6):

Yes; there just hasn’t been a cooperative partnership of the players involved.

SEVIE ZELLER (DISTRICT 6):

Of course. We are currently weighing several options that will allow local businesses to thrive and satisfy public demand while maintaining and even improving the safety and security of Downtown Lafayette.

NANETTE COOK (DISTRICT 7):

Yes, probably.

LIZ WEBB HEBERT (DISTRICT 8):

Safety should always be our first priority as a community. The downtown development authority is looking to revitalize the area and add more residential businesses and in order to do that we need to find a balance for business residents and night life. With that in mind, we need to review different areas for growth not just bars. I don’t think we want Downtown to become a Bourbon street.

GERALD JUDICE (DISTRICT 8):

I like to think there is a “happy medium” in several cases where there are discrepancies of any kind. Downtown is no different.

CAROL ROSS (DISTRICT 8):

Downtown is part of the community and should have regular police patrols just as any other area would -- any special additional security should be paid for by both the DDA and private bar/property owners on a fairly determined/negotiated formula. Seems to me that the previous formula was punitive to some.

Should there be a separate zoning classification Downtown — i.e., a “cultural district” classification — that would allow a music venue like Artmosphere to remain open without opening the door to a proliferation of bars?

CASTILLE (2):

I agree there needs to be a separate zoning classification to allow businesses like Artmosphere to operate. These are the types of businesses that should be allowed downtown. The night life would be safer and more enjoyable for patrons.

CLAVIER (2):
The separate classification of Cultural District may be the workable solution. To my knowledge Artmosphere has been a corporate neighbor to others in the area and is a business we should encourage.

LEWIS (3):
No, I do not think that there should be a separate zoning classification for Downtown because cultural festivals and bars both benefit financially from the same customers that are attending the events. We need to encourage more policing and security to ensure the safety and integrity of Downtown but a separate zoning isn’t necessary.

PETERSEN (3):
I think it’s an interesting idea worth fleshing out, but I believe we can find a holistic solution that includes everyone and precludes the proliferation of bars.

KOLL (5):
Not necessarily. Free-market based ordinances may be a better fit.

CHAISSON (6):
The last thing downtown needs is more bars. We’ve got that covered. Artmosphere is not a new establishment. It is a cultural staple of the community. The council has already shown support of Artmosphere by requesting ATC to delay the audit of food versus alcohol sales. The owner of Artmosphere has put in good-faith efforts to meet the requirements demanded by current zoning, exhibiting a willingness to cooperate with local government. I am in favor of a change in zoning classification which could explicitly state that Artmosphere may continue its current operation while development of new bars is not permissible.

CONQUE (6):
Yes.

ZELLER (6):
The idea of creating a new classification is appealing. It is important to make sure that all parties involved are taking into consideration the ramifications of opening that door so to speak. How many businesses would be interested in this new classification? Is this a case where granting a variance is a better solution? These are all the discussions currently taking place so that a decision that is best for the community can be made.

COOK (7):
I don’t support a new, or separate, zoning classification for “cultural” businesses. Virtually every small culinary and music establishment, and many bars, can make strong arguments for having some cultural significance. I believe we should simply address the issue of Artmosphere head on. Would the Council consider granting a variance to existing ordinance based on respect for Beryl’s investments and commitment, as well as its unique history and status with an important segment of our young people. I would support an open discussion of that option.

HEBERT (8):
I support the assessment of rezoning. Any good decision maker should maintain their principles, while being able to review their positions from time to time in order to evaluate what is working and what is not. I would like to see less of a moratorium and more of a system of conditional use based on certain criteria such as how many days of the week they are open, crime reported, sound levels etc. The criteria could be created by Downtown Development Authority and local law enforcement and presented the council.

JUDICE (8):
I would seek the input from community leaders from both the Downtown area as well as other areas to make this decision. I don’t think the council or any government entity should make decisions or policy based on an individual case.

ROSS (8):
When the legislation was crafted creating the downtown development district (authored by my husband) I thought the idea was that it would be an identified arts/cultural district. But crafting a special zoning classification for one business is wrong -- even if we sympathize and hope the problem will be solved in some other way.