by Marion Marks
Now that Broadmoor Baptist Church has decided to withdraw their request before the Shreveport City Council to obtain a zoning variance that would have enabled paved parking lots next to neighbor homes, some people say the neighbors have won the fight. I suggest the solution is still in the balance for allowing a church to grow to meet the demands of their members.
BBC, the church, has leaders and members who deem it necessary to offer parking options closer to their new constructions. And this is not an unobtainable goal. The problem is that the solution process has been less than perfect for all concerned.
Any new development that requires a zoning variance or approval should require a constructive discussion process between all parties affected by the new construction. Some of my associates with whom I share this blog feel we owe it to the parties in this case to help facilitate a solution as we were part of the effort to halt the rapid paving project. Solutions are part of our stock in trade, and we are awkwardly yet methodically trying to address the real issues of this impasse.
Stopping the pouring of concrete was necessary, but it is not a final solution. Some solutions are accomplished by hiring outside professionals, and in this case we believe the church has begun hiring both planners in design as well as in political engineering. These both are ways to accomplish ends. So, it is now time to help solve parking as the church believes they have a problem.
Most problems are a matter of interpreting the facts and addressing them. Both sides need to be willing to give the other the benefit of the doubt in considering the respective concerns. In the end, we don’t always achieve solutions we desire, but we should be able to find alternate solutions that all concerned can find acceptable. Paving with concrete may be less expensive and require less maintenance than using pavers with grass and using landscaping and green spaces with features, but the church must make a concerted effort to consider what will be least objectionable to the neighbors, while still serving its purposes. A multi-level parking garage next to a building does afford handicap covered and short-distance parking, but at a much higher price. Multi-level parking may require a variance, but it may be less objectionable to neighbors. Some may be of the opinion that the addition of a parking garage would be more of an eyesore than a traditional paved parking lot. These are all subject to review.
In short, there are options that all parties should consider. However, the first issue that must be addressed is that all involved must reboot and discuss these options in a well-informed and civil manner. My vocalization of the issues may have inflamed the recent city council attempt of the church, but it allowed the neighbors a voice. This voice was never silent before, but it lacked penetration into the media in a way that clearly passed the feelings until one formerly unheard neighbor was willing to speak out.
We believe Judy deserves the support and thanks of all the neighbors for her courage and refusal to back down. Her voice represented the voice of all who believe “their home is their castle.” She wants to live peacefully in the home where she has spent more than fifty years raising her family. She deserves that.
We felt like we were presented with an opportunity to do an act of kindness for someone in need. We felt personal pride and empowered when We stepped up for Judy. Eventually we will all be faced with these opportunities. We never know when it will be or how we will act.
While we have reached this pause in the action, we must seize the opportunity to focus on solutions that will best serve all parties. Neighbors should proceed under the assumption that all parties are acting in good faith. At this stage I hope neighbors, all of them, will quietly begin to facilitate solutions along with the church. Sometimes it takes more than fences to make good neighbors.