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Photograph: Opelousas resident Daniel Kahanek addresses the Opelousas Board of Aldermen on Wednesday with traffic concerns related to the proposed My Little Angels Paradise Daycare Center on Anna Lee Street. Behind Kahanek is Arika Charles, operator of the daycare facility. (Photograph by Freddie Herpin.)

Editor/Consulting Writer

The Opelousas Board of Aldermen approved on Wednesday night a number of prospective commercial, educational and  enterprise ventures which due to their locations, required discussion, annexation and variances.

Included among the changes in zoning were the annexation into the city of property located on La. 357 and Coyote Lane, a partial tract of land south of Anna Lee Street which will be used for a children’s day care center, a vocational school on Vine Street  and a convenience store on South Union.

All of those proposed business ventures, including agreeing for The Hampton Inn on Commerce Boulevard to sell alcoholic beverages, were previously approved on Monday by the city planning commission, according to Code Enforcement Director Margaret Doucet.

J.S. Clark Leadership Academy
The 73-acre site plan along Coyote Lane, will allow J.S. Clark to eventually construct a new school for grades 5-12 and other facilities which principal Victor Lewis said will include a football stadium.

Lewis did not specify when the project is scheduled to begin. However Lewis told the Board that the current Clark campus on Statesman Road, will remain as a campus for kindergarten through fourth graders once the new campus begins accepting students.

The area where the new campus facility is scheduled, Lewis said, is in need of development. Lewis said the construction of the school and ancillary structures should help invigorate the west side of Opelousas.

Daycare Center
The Board voted 5-1 to approve the request by My Little Angels Paradise Daycare to change the zoning plan in the residential neighborhood.

Alderman Charles Cummings, who cast the only “no” vote, said some residents in the area have objected to the possibility of increased vehicle speed once the daycare center begins operation.

Doucet said she was also aware of complaints associated with the potential of more traffic associated with the daycare center.

City Attorney Travis Broussard noted that the length of Anna Lee Street is probably too short for vehicles to achieve high speeds.

My Little Angels owner Arika Charles said she plans to construct fencing around the area where the daycare center will operate in order to protect the children there.

In an interview following the vote, Charles said she has purchased the entire seven acre property previously operated as the Opelousas Swim And Tennis Club.

Charles told the Board that she is uncertain why traffic would be considered as a reason to deny the request for the variance.

Opelousas Police Chief Graig LeBlanc said he would agree to lowering the current 25 mile-per-hour speed limit on Anna Lee if necessary to mitigate the concerns of those who fear the speed of vehicles.

Other Variance Discussions
The Board voted to approve the request for Khan Enterprises of Opelousas to operate a convenience store at 1901 South Union.

Ivy League Cosmos Academy also received unanimous approval to open the vocational school at 1709 West Vine Street.

The Chick-fil-A request for the addition of two signs and enlarging another sign at 1119 East Landry Street were also granted by the Board.