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Highland residents speak out against zoning for funeral home, issue postponed

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Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn speaks to the MPC as a resident in opposition of the rezoning for the old Don's Seafood restaurant for a funeral home. He lives on the same block as the building. Caddo Commissioner Matthew Linn speaks to the MPC as a resident in opposition of the rezoning for the old Don's Seafood restaurant for a funeral home. He lives on the same block as the building.
SHREVEPORT, La. (KTBS) -

The debate over whether or not a vacant restaurant should be rezoned so the space can become a funeral home lives on.

Thursday, the Metropolitan Planning Commission decided to defer the rezoning application until the next meeting.

Rosalind Patterson-Nelson, the applicant, would like to use the old Don's Seafood on the corner or Highland Road and Kings Highway as a funeral home. She spoke first to the commission and asked for the deferral. Her application asks for the zoning to change from a B-2 to a B-2-E.

However, the residents were at the meeting and spoke out against it. More than 75 people in attendance said they apposed the zoning change and would not like to see a funeral home take over that building. Fifteen people voiced their concerns at the podium.

Malcom Murchison lives two blocks way from the old Don's Seafood and shared his research with the commission.

"Within a five minute drive from my house, there's Rose-Neath on Marshall Street, Forest Park on Louisiana at Stoner, and there's Osborn Funeral Home on Southern Avenue," he said. "So why do we need to place another funeral home in the Highland neighborhood?"

"I don't know if any of you have ever been to the Gilbert post office," said Jolinda Redling, which got a laugh from the crowd. "That already makes it one lane, two to one both ways. So any kind of disruption to the Gilbert post office would be a major nightmare."

Patty Pernici owns Highland C-Store, the Chevron gas station across the street from where the funeral home's front door would be. She said she was excited at first to learn that a business wanted to take over the building, but she does not think a funeral home is the right kind of business.

"I have been so impressed with the neighborhood, with the people that live there," Pernici said. "It doesn't matter on what side of Kings Highway they come from, I love every single one of them, and I respect every single one of them. And I wouldn't want to have that change."

Other residents said they thought the request of the B-2-E zoning is the same as a B-3 zoning, with allows for commercial business. They worry a change would set a precedent, and allow for more like businesses to come in. 

As the opponents took turns voicing their opinions, Patterson- Nelson took notes of everything said. She spoke to reporters after her part of the meeting and addressed some their concerns issues.

"The traffic is a legitimate concern. But I don't see it as something that's going to be harmful to the community," said Patterson-Nelson.

"We don't have to schedule funerals at 3:00 or 4:00pm. We're in control of when we schedule the funerals," she said in response to concerns about the traffic when school gets out.

Patterson-Nelson plans to have a meeting with the neighborhood, but the date of that is undetermined at this point.

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