The plans to construct a Costco store on South Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans were approved by the New Orleans City Council on Thursday. While this may not sound too intriguing, the events which transpired illustrate several interesting and important lessons for those who are considering starting a business.
The meeting, while not originally scheduled to cover the issue, changed gears and approved the plans following the unplanned appearance of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. The mayor came to the meeting to tell the council that he wished the project to be approved faster than expected so the construction process could begin immediately. The plan was not scheduled to be voted on until July. Following a presentation by Costco officials, the council unanimously voted to approve the project.
The construction plans had already been approved by the City Planning Commission. However, they had attached several conditions to the plans about which Costco had reservations. For example, the City Planners had wanted to limit the size of the parking lot from 675 to 499.
The hasty approval of the plan does, however, leave several important aspects to be considered. The City Planning Commission was left unaware that the issue would be voted on at this meeting and was not able to make a full presentation of their concerns. Even more importantly, it is now unclear if the provisions placed on Costco by the City Planning Commission were maintained, changed or removed altogether.
The intrigues of the political process aside, it is obvious from this series of events that passing a proposed plan before city planners and councils can be a difficult and perhaps confusing process. Anticipating and understanding their requirements and even meeting with them alone is not always easy.
Source: The Times-Picayune, "New Orleans City Council approves construction of Costco store," Michelle Krupa, June 28, 2012