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New councilman withdraws Katrina tour fee proposal

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 10:45 am •  Published: January 11, 2013

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A newly elected New Orleans city councilman whose district includes the Lower 9th Ward has withdrawn a package of ordinances that would have required tour buses to pay fees to access the neighborhood.

Councilman James Gray, who took office last month, says he needs more time to research the issue, which was introduced by his predecessor. The new ordinances were brought before the council in November by then-Councilman Ernest Charbonnet. They would have required hundreds of dollars in fees per tour vehicle and fines for those caught in the area without a decal or those that venture off approved tour routes.

Gray withdrew the proposed measures Thursday.

"We'd like an opportunity to study the issues and have meaningful conversations with the community before going forward," Gray said in a statement Thursday.

When in office, Charbonnet said the proposed legislation stemmed from complaints by residents that tour vehicles were blocking streets and damaging roads. Residents also were weary of being gawked at, he said.

But not all residents were bothered by the tour buses. Some said they enjoyed waving to tourists and selling homemade treats such as pralines, a popular New Orleans candy, as the buses wended through the neighborhood.

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