NEW ORLEANS - During the regular meeting this Thursday, November 18, Zoning Docket 71/21, which requests amendments to the conditional use ordinance for the Orleans Justice Center to permit the phase III expansion, appeared on the Council agenda for the first time.
The City of New Orleans is currently under a federal court order to honor an agreement made by a past administration to build Phase III. However, the Council has repeatedly signaled that they do not support Phase III nor any attempt to expand the jail.
"This Council passed a motion that I authored and introduced that significantly reduced the population at the jail," District "B" Councilmember Jay H. Banks explained. “At the end of the day, the Council has a duty to abide by the constitution and to follow the orders of a federal court."
"To be clear, I do not support and will not vote in support of Phase III, but I will also not vote to violate a court order," Councilmember Banks continued. "Every time this matter comes before the Council, I will ask to defer it. This Council will not vote to approve Phase III, nor will we take a vote that might be interpreted as contempt. While I will not vote my machine against Phase III, rest assured that my silence is a vote against Phase III. I will not be enlisted to rubber-stamp something that I fundamentally do not support."
The deadline to act on ZD 71/21 is January 3, 2022. If no action is taken by then, the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance will treat that as a denial. Subsequently, it will be up to the court to order what it may deem appropriate and to enforce any agreements.