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Potential buyer planning to turn a Lake Charles mansion into a restaurant and events center

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Also from KPLC 7 News…

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) –

Take a trip down Shell Beach Drive and you’ll see signs lining the road, asking people to vote no on a restaurant.

A historic home at 1301 Shell Beach Drive has been up for sale for $2.6 million dollars.

“My vision is to keep the house intact and save it from being demolished or being used for other commercial venues and the property can be used as a subdivision easily here in Lake Charles,” said Mazen Hijazi owner of Mazen’s in Lake Charles.

Hijazi is planning to turn the mansion into a restaurant and events center, adding a parking lot in the back and a commercial kitchen in the existing house.

He hopes to hold more events there than anything else.

Many in the Shell Beach Drive community are against it.

“You have the smell and just being in your backyard,” said one neighbor, Karen Barker. “It’s just not the place for it. Not counting the cars. There would be an added 350 to 400 cars if he had a 150 chair restaurant and if it’s open from 10:30 a.m. till 10 at night, that’s a lot of vehicles. I am pro development in Lake Charles. I’m part of the Alliance for Positive Growth,  but that’s just not the place for it on Shell Beach Drive.”

Barker is one of the residents that opposes the plan submitted to the City in April.

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Many residents think the traffic, noise, and influx of people would be bad and possibly unsafe for the neighborhood.

“Traffic should not affect them because they can come from Sallier and Barbe street, so it would be very easy access,” said Hijazi. “The Port of Lake Charles is right next door, so it never had a problem before, so i don’t see any other problem.”

There is a belief this land would be re-zoned and turned from residential to commercial, but the City says that’s not true.

“The zoning does not change,” said Assistant Director of Planning and Zoning, Doug Buerguieres. “The application is to establish a specific use on the property, so if they are requesting a restaurant/event center, that is the only thing that property can be used for. They can’t come back and change it to anything that wasn’t in the application.”

Hijazi is submitting a major conditional use permit application to be heard in front of the Planning and Zoning Committee May 14, but of course, not without opposition.

The City says the board will review the application and hear testimony from both sides.

It will then make decisions on whether there needs to be a traffic impact study or other requirements to lessen the impact on the area.

If the application is denied, it can be appealed to the city council.

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