Kenner settleing on new districts - Most on City Council back minor tweaks

Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA) - Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Author: Mary Sparacello Kenner bureau

Some streets in the southern section of Kenner's University City subdivision and a few in Greenlawn Terrace would be shifted into different council districts under the redistricting plan favored by most City Council members. 

The council is scheduled to vote Thursday on redrawing its five districts to account for population changes measured in the 2010 census. It is choosing among eight alternatives, but most of its seven members -- two are elected citywide -- appear to favor one that they say would alter the map the least. 

"The least invasive one we have talked about is Option 5," Councilwoman Maria DeFrancesch said. That option would alter DeFrancesch's 4th District by picking up Moselle Drive from Councilman Kent Denapolis' 5th District. 

Denapolis and 2nd District Councilman Joe Stagni said they, too, favored this plan and that it would likely be the option supported by most members. 

Also in the plan, Councilman Gregory Carroll's 1st District would pick up the lower part of University City, such as Furman Circle and Emerson Street, from the 5th District. The 2nd District would pick up part of Greenlawn subdivision, from West Esplanade Avenue and Vintage Drive to the south and north and Alabama and California avenues to the west and east, respectively; those streets are now part of Councilman Ben Zahn's 3rd District. 

Last year's census determined Kenner's population is 66,702, down 5 percent from 2000. 

The law is designed to maintain similar populations in the five council districts. Once there is a variation as great as 10 percent, redistricting is mandated. 

The 5th District is now more than 10 percent larger than the 1st. 

The council held a public hearing on Monday to discuss eight potential redistricting plans to correct that disparity. The choices, plus the current map, are available on the city's website, 

About 10 residents attended the meeting and were concerned about options that divided the Beachview Heights subdivision or the Morningside Park subdivision. The option that most of the council favors wouldn't affect either area. 

Differing from some colleagues, Carroll said he favors a plan that puts voting precinct K-30, the southern part of Morningside Park, in the 1st District. He said it keeps the 1st District contiguous. 

The council is set to choose a plan Thursday when its meeting starts at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 1801 Williams Blvd. Before the vote, the public will be allowed to address the council. 

Whatever plan the council approves is subject to review by the U.S. Justice Department. An approved plan would take effect with council elections in 2014.