Nathan Stubbs

City moves to block Greyhound station

by Nathan Stubbs

Greyhound Bus Lines must stop renovations to its building at the corner of Moss and Mathieu streets in preparation of opening a new bus station. That’s the order expected from City Hall following an ordinance passed last night by the city-parish council that rescinds the property’s light industrial zoning classification. Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux says once the ordinance is signed by City-Parish President Joey Durel, the city will send notice to Greyhound that its temporary certificate of occupancy is being pulled. If the company continues renovations at the site, Boudreaux says he will recommend the city seek a cease and desist order against Greyhound.

Reached this morning, Greyhound spokesman Dustin Clark says company officials recently read about the council vote from local newspaper reports but were not informed of the meeting ahead of time. “We haven’t heard from anyone from the city,” Clark says. “It appears there’s a legal ambiguity in the decision, and we plan on moving forward with our renovations at the Moss Street location until we're told not to legally.” Clark adds he does not know if that would require a cease and desist order signed by a judge. “I’m not sure what that’ll take,” he says. “It’s not a clear situation right now. There seems to be a lot of ambiguity legally in the situation, in the vote.”

At last night’s meeting, Councilman Bruce Conque questioned whether the council’s action would have any teeth, since Greyhound had already obtained building permits and a temporary certificate of occupancy under the light industrial zoning classification. Conque said Greyhound may already be legally grandfathered in, so that the zoning change cannot affect them. Conque was one of three councilman voting against the ordinance last night. The ordinance repealed a zoning change that was made by the previous council last October. At that time, the council went against zoning staff recommendations in granting Greyhound and IberiaBank light industrial zoning for the Moss Street building. IberiaBank sold the building to Greyhound contingent upon the council granting the zoning change.

A large number of area residents opposed Greyhound relocating to the Moss Street site, which sits in a residential area near two schools. Councilman Boudreaux, who spearheaded the effort to repeal the property’s zoning, says he believes Greyhound should not be grandfathered in since the company has yet to begin operating its bus station on Moss Street. He also lamented not bringing his ordinance up quicker. Boudreaux twice delayed a vote on the measure to allow more time between city officials who hoped to broker a deal to bring Greyhound into the city’s proposed multimodal center. During that time, Greyhound went ahead with obtaining permits and a temporary certificate of occupancy for the Moss Street property. “I could have taken action six weeks ago, and I chose not to,” Boudreaux says. “I deferred to show good faith negotiations and when their turn was there to either move forward or show good faith, they chose to move forward.”

Boudreaux is still holding out hope that an agreeable solution can be found. “I’m hoping that once they see the effort that was put forth at last night’s meeting and again reminding them of wanting to be a good, friendly community neighbor, their representative may want to come back to the negotiating table and work something out."

"This is not about being anti-business,” Boudreaux continues, “this is just about being pro-people. And Greyhound is still welcome to join us in the multimodal facility.”