City Archives
New Orleans Public Library

New Orleans (La.). Board of Zoning Adjustments
Records, 1943-1992
Ordinance #13649 CCS (March 23, 1932) provided for a Zoning Board of Appeal and Adjustment (see also Act 240 (sect. 7) of the 1926 Louisiana Legislature). The Board heard appeals from the administrative decisions of the city's administrative officer, who administered the zoning law with regard to the granting of building permits. Its five members were appointed by the mayor with approval of the Commission Council. Members served five year terms. An earlier Board of Zoning Appeal and Review (created in 1929 by ordinance #11639, CCS) had only advisory powers.

The new Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance (#18565, CDC--July 3, 1953) replaced the Zoning Board of Appeal and Adjustment with the Board of Zoning Adjustments. In addition to its power of appeal in matters relating to the issuance of building permits, the Board also was authorized to hear appeals involving alleged errors made in the administration of the zoning ordinance and to permit variances from the zoning regulations in accordance with principles incorporated in that law. The 1954 Home Rule Charter placed the Board under the supervision of the new Department of Safety and Permits. In 1996, in compliance with the new city charter passed in the previous year, the Board of Zoning Adjustments was placed under the supervision of the City Planning Commission and its membership increased to seven.

For additional detail on the duties, responsibilities, and administrative activities of the Board, see the various editions of the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.

The records of the Board of Zoning Adjustments include minute books (1943-1977), dockets (1987-1992), and sound recordings of Board meetings (1957-1992).

The minute books include transcripts of hearings as well as the official journal of business transacted at each meeting. There are some missing dates in the overall 1943-1977 series. It appears that some of the minute books were used as "coloring books" by unidentified children at some time after their creation!

The dockets comprise individual file folders for each docketed case. Included in the files are applications for variances, correspondence, plans, and photographs. In some cases transcripts are included for BZA meetings at which the docket was considered. Folders for several dockets are missing as follows: 1987 (#39 & 140), 1988 (#43), 1989 (#13 & 155), 1990 (#5, 6, 19 & 20), 1991 (#8, 12-27, & 36-37), and 1992 (#156).

The sound recordings register the exact content of each BZA meeting. From 1957 to September 1973 the recordings are on Soundscriber disks, from 1973-1977 they are on reel-to-reel tape, and from 1978-1992 they are on tape cassettes. No attempt has been made to create a precise inventory of recordings present in the series. While arranging them into chronological order, however, the processing archivist did note numerous gaps and missing items. "Indexes," showing the contents of each cassette tape, are available for portions of the years 1981-1992.

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