May 14, 2015
City Council Chamber
City Council May 14, 2015 Regular Meeting News Summary
Thursday, May 14, 2015 - New Orleans, LA - At today's regular City Council meeting, the Council adopted an ordinance approving the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO), replacing the current CZO in its entirety. The Council also passed resolutions approving the transfer of electric utility operations, the issuance of storm recovery bonds and a natural gas hedging program.
In other business, the Council received a briefing on Entergy's transmission upgrades and 2015 storm readiness. The Council also issued proclamations to New Orleans first responders and to City Hall volunteer, Audrey Flynn, for 31 years of service.
Adopted New Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance
The Council adopted Ordinance Calendar No. 30,637, approving the new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (CZO) and replacing the current CZO in its entirety. The CZO governs land use throughout the City of New Orleans and lays out permitted land uses for each of the City's zoning districts, building height limits, setback requirements, urban design standards, operational rules, and other regulations. The CZO is broken into a series of Articles that cover citywide standards, individual zoning district regulations, and the processes for variances, conditional use permits, and other land use reviews.
The City's Home Rule Charter requires that a CZO be adopted and that it be consistent with the Master Plan. After several years of development, including many public meetings, the City Planning Commission (CPC) recommended and the Council approved as recommended by the CPC (by motion M-14-464) the new CZO on October 24, 2014. The new CZO adoption process is now complete.
Council President Williams said, "The adoption of the new CZO is a progressive step forward for the City of New Orleans. This CZO sets forth consistent regulation and guidelines for the future growth and development of the City. On behalf of the Council, I would like to thank everyone who has played a role in the process to develop this important document."
Council Vice President Head said, "The passage of the new CZO today represents years of work by the Council, Administration, City Planning Commission, hired consultants, staff, and many members of the public who have engaged with us and provided comment throughout this legislative process. As with all city ordinances, future amendments, as long as they are consistent with the Master Plan, are possible."
Approved Transfer of Electric Utility Operations, Issuance of Storm Recovery Bonds, and Natural Gas Hedging Program
The Council passed a series of utility related resolutions authored by Councilmembers Williams, Head, Guidry, Brossett and Gray.
Resolution No. R-15-194 approved the transfer of Entergy Louisiana, LLC (ELL) electric utility assets and the sale of electric utility operations in Algiers to Entergy New Orleans, Inc. (ENO). The transfer will not result in an immediate increase in base rates. New metering equipment will be installed by Entergy Louisiana prior to the transaction closing date in order to facilitate ENO service to Algiers customers. The Algiers accounts receivable of ELL, both billed and unbilled, will be transferred to ENO at the date of the transaction. Ordinances to finalize this transfer will be adopted at a later date.
Resolutions No. R-15-193 and R-15-195 approved the issuance of storm recovery bonds relating to the relief costs of Hurricane Isaac and approved the Storm Cost Securitization Agreement in Principle. In January 2015, ENO filed an application requesting approval to utilize storm recovery bond proceeds to finance ENO's outstanding debt obligations associated with its Hurricane Isaac storm recovery costs of $31.7 million and the costs to partially replenish ENO's Storm Reserves of $53.4 million to achieve the Council-approved $75 million funding requirement.
The agreement provides the following:
- Electric Storm Reserve Rider and Gas Storm Reserve Rider will be removed from ENO's rates and will not be used to collect funds
- ENO must designate $5.6 million to benefit gas ratepayers, the remaining balance will benefit electric ratepayers
- Existing storm recovery reserve must be kept separate from the securitized storm reserve
- ENO must file annual activity reports with the Council while the existing and securitized storm reserves maintain a non-zero balance
- ENO must notify the Council of withdrawals from either of the storm reserve funds within 60 days.
- Due to low interest rates, it is estimated that over time the Council's action will save ratepayers approximately $25.8 million
Resolution No. R-15-196, authorized Entergy New Orleans (ENO) to implement a hedging program designed to protect gas ratepayers against volatility in natural gas prices. The program locks the price of natural gas for an agreed upon quantity in a future month during the winter heating season to protect local customers from price spikes. After reviewing the 2015 Annual Gas Market Report's recommendations, the Council approved ENO's request to implement a 2015/2016 winter heating season gas hedge program, provided ENO does not hedge more than 25% of its 2014/2015 actual heating volumes.
Received Briefing on Entergy's Transmission Upgrades and Storm Readiness
The Council received a briefing from Entergy New Orleans, Inc. (ENO) representatives, regarding ENO's readiness for the 2015 Hurricane Season and outlining future transmission upgrades. The transmission upgrade project will enhance reliability and increase transmission capacity to help ensure affordable power for New Orleans residents. Entergy will accomplish the transmission project in two phases. The first phase will begin this summer in the Magazine and Audubon Park area and the second phase will begin in late fall in the Carrollton - Hollygrove area. Informational meetings will be held in early summer to fully brief the communities being impacted. ENO's storm readiness plans are centered on constant monitoring of storm and weather conditions that could potentially affect customers. Before a storm hits, ENO will mobilize Entergy workers, contractors and other utilities personnel to respond to outages or other storm damages. During a storm, ENO has a strong focus on communication between customers, the media and government officials to facilitate the flow of information so that they can work quickly and safely in restoring power after a storm. Entergy customers can stay informed during a storm by downloading the Entergy App or by viewing Entergy's Storm Center online.
|Entergy Regulatory Affairs |
Vice President Gary Huntley
Supported Creation of the National Slave Ship Museum
|Architect renderings of the proposed |
National Slave Ship Museum
District "B" Councilmember LaToya Cantrell said, "The National Slave Ship Museum will be the next great attraction for visitors and locals to experience. It will reconnect Americans to their complicated and rich history and provide a neutral ground for all of us to examine the costs of our country's development."
The Council passed Resolution R-15-199, authored by Councilmember Cantrell, that supported the development of the National Slave Ship Museum to be located at the Celeste Street Wharf in the Lower Garden District. Once developed, the museum will enhance and perpetuate New Orleans' status as a major cultural hub and destination by recreating the saga of the African Diaspora story of slave trade in the United States along the Mississippi River, via the Port of New Orleans.
The proposed $170 million museum will include a life-size interactive slave ship built inside a new five-story building and a riverfront park with an amphitheater and two replica African villages. The museum complex will also include a Creole Caribbean African restaurant, an herb and vegetable garden, a DNA lab, an exhibit and meeting space. As a part of the museum experience, visitors will have the opportunity to travel aboard a fully functioning replica slave ship that will sail to Natchez, Miss., and Scott's Bluff in Baton Rouge, located near Southern University.
Issued Proclamations to New Orleans First Responders
|New Orleans first responders featured on |
"Nightwatch" with the Council
The Council issued Proclamations commending the New Orleans Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services for their participation on the A&E television series "Nightwatch" that showcased the city's first responders. In New Orleans, police officers, fire fighters and EMT's working the overnight shift answer as many as a thousand emergency calls a night. "Nightwatch" gives viewers the opportunity to see the skills, dedication and determination that these critical and dangerous jobs require.
Council Vice President Stacy Head said, "Rarely do we have the opportunity to publicly thank and recognize the brave first responders in our community for the very important work they do on a daily and nightly basis. "Nightwatch" brought their stories to a national viewing audience, highlighting their courage, compassion and commitment to our local community. The Council is grateful for this opportunity to express its sincere appreciation to these local heroes and television stars!"
Recognized Long Time City Hall Volunteer, Audrey Flynn, for 31 Years of Service
|Long Time City Hall |
Volunteer Audrey Flynn
The Council presented Audrey Flynn with a Proclamation acknowledging 31 years of dedicated volunteer service to the New Orleans City Council. For over three decades, Miss Audrey, who is 94 years old, has volunteered her time to assist various Councilmember offices and departments. During her time with the Council, she has worked in the offices of former Councilmembers Peggy Wilson, Troy Carter, Jacquelyn Clarkson, and Arnie Fielkow, and today, she works in the office of Councilmember Cantrell.
District "B" Councilmember Cantrell said, "Miss Audrey is one of the longest serving and most beloved volunteers in City Hall history. She is also a role model to the City Hall staff, a loving mother and grandmother and member of the Great 100 Nurses. We are honored to have her in our midst every day."