Council approves new bed and breakfast ordinanceMay 25th, 2010 | By Frank McCormack | Category: News
Visitors and entrepreneurs alike in St. Bernard Parish may sleep a little more peacefully at night, now that the St. Bernard Council has voted to add a bed and breakfast ordinance to the parish’s Code of Ordinances.
The item was first introduced in mid-March and details of the ordinance have since been ironed out by the Planning Commission, St. Bernard Tourist Commission and Department of Community Development. The new ordinance sets two “zones” for bed and breakfast activity – Old Arabi and the St. Bernard community along Bayou Road in the eastern part of the parish.
St. Bernard Parish Tourism Director Elizabeth McDougall said she hopes the new ordinance will inspire locals to venture into the hospitality industry.
“We hope that, by the adoption of these guidelines, we’ll spawn people who are maybe considering it and maybe have that entrepreneurial spirit to develop bed and breakfasts in our community,” McDougall said.
McDougall added that, for a parish that has a minimal amount of guest accommodations, bed and breakfasts could be an effective way to draw visitors into St. Bernard.
The Old Arabi bed and breakfast zone definitely looks the part. Aside from the stately residences along Friscoville Avenue, many houses along Esteban, Angela and Mehle Streets offer the seclusion sought after by bed and breakfast guests. McDougall said she is confident bed and breakfasts in Old Arabi will appeal to people visiting the New Orleans area.
“For the leisure traveler who doesn’t necessarily want to stay in the city but would rather be infused into the terrain of our community, a bed and breakfast would be just the place,” she said.
And not to be overlooked are the houses and camps in St. Bernard Village that could fall under the bed and breakfast umbrella. For visitors looking for a moral rural context, Bayou Road may be a great fit, parish officials said.
“You might even have fishing lodges that may operate as bed and breakfasts,” said District A representative Ray Lauga, whose district includes Old Arabi.
Lauga said he knows of at least two residences in his district that have offered guest lodging in the past and will now operate as bed and breakfasts.
The ordinance also opens the bed and breakfast option up to “any property which has been deemed as historically significant by the parish historian and abuts a highway that has been designated as a Louisiana Scenic Byway, regardless of its zoning classification.” St. Bernard Highway, technically called Louisiana Highway 46, is a state scenic byway that runs through the parish.
McDougall said St. Bernard’s bed and breakfast ordinance was modeled after that of Natchitoches. Established in 1714, Natchitoches is considered the bed and breakfast capitol of Louisiana. The area is home to the Cane River Creole National Historic Park and boasts close to 30 inns, guest houses and bed and breakfasts. The Natchitoches Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is funded by a tourism occupancy tax.
According to the ordinance, a bed and breakfast is an “owner-occupied residential dwelling” that is used to “accommodate a transient tourist population.” Bed and breakfasts in the parish must have no more than five rooms and no separate kitchen facilities, though the proprietor may provide meals in a common dining room.
Guests may stay for no more than 14 days.
Permits to operate bed and breakfasts in the parish may be obtained from the Department of Community Development after potential proprietors have received a conditional use permit from the council, letters of compliance from both the state fire marshal and the parish fire department, and a certificate of compliance from the state department of health and hospitals.
After inspections from both the Department of Community Development and the fire marshal, proprietors must then obtain an occupational license from the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Office. One parking space must be available per guest room, with two additional spaces for bed and breakfast staff.
Formal procedures and documents are still being finalized. For more information regarding bed and breakfasts in St. Bernard Parish, contact the parish tourist commission at 504-278-2054 or call the Department of Community Development at 504-278-4310.
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