115-unit PUD tabled by Planning Commission, delaying inevitable approval by Gonzales Council

Gonzales’ Planning & Zoning Commission declined to consider an application to rezone 16 acres south of Orice Roth Rd on Monday “until we determine whether the area can handle additional development.”  The application by Montan Lanco, the first step toward a proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) including 115 (+/-) single family residential units, was neither approved or denied, the worst case scenario for the developer.  Village at Sawgrass is intended for the vacant area just north Sawgrass Point, the apartment complex west of the inaptly named Veterans Blvd between Hwy 30 and Orice Roth.

Who will make such a determination, whether the area can handle more development, is anybody’s guess.  How would one even go about it?  It is extraordinarily unlikely that the council/mayor decide to expend taxpayer dollars to undertake such an effort.

Which begs the question; what next for Village at Sawgrass?

Looking southwest from Orice Roth (Sawgrass Point in background)

Whatever Planning and Zoning approves or denies, the ultimate authority to rezone acreage lies with the City Council.  If the former declines to offer any recommendation at all…

Looking west from Veteran’s Blvd

Mayor Barney Arceneaux’s administration, in the person of CAO Scot Byrd expressed “full support of the rezoning” and, “generally speaking, we like the Concept Plan” put forward by the developer that constructed Sawgrass Point apartments.  Montan Lanco is the current property owner, with a sale contingent upon rezoning approval.

The five-member council is not beholden to any action taken by Planning & Zoning and, in fact, routinely ignores the expressed will of the appointed commission.  Planning & Zoning has undergone quite the transformation over the last few years, four of its members relatively new to the panel.  It was the newest of newcomers, Kemlyn Bailey Lomas who made the motion to table consideration of Montan Lanco’s bid to rezone.

Citing drainage problems and transportation deficiencies (what else), Lomas expressed her refusal to support all future development along Orice Roth, the hottest of development hotspots in the City of Gonzales over the last decade.  Most recently it was Chapelwood Estates…

Gonzales Council approves Chapelwood Estates to settle lawsuit

approved by the City Council’s 3-2 vote on August 23 after rejecting the 28-lot subdivision in March.  That approval came after a lawsuit was filed by the developer, AP Gonzales, LLC and its lawyer, Matthew Pryor (who happens to chair Ascension Parish’s Planning Commission).  A 3-1 denial initially, the lawsuit was settled when Councilman Harold Stewart switched sides and Councilman Kirk Boudreaux voted to approve after abstaining five months earlier.

Councilman Johnny Berthelot was the third vote to approve while Councilmen Tim Riley and Tyler Turner opposed.

Sooner or later, Village at Sawgrass will most likely obtain its approval given its backing from Mayor Arceneaux’s administration and a pro-development faction on the City Council.  Once the appropriate procedural mechanism is identified, the proposed Planned Unit Development will appear on a City Council agenda for the final arbiter’s decision.

Up until a few months ago Gonzales’ development code did not feature the zoning category (Municode has yet to update the city’s online ordinances to include PUD’s).  The category was added to accommodate Village at Sawgrass which will be wedged into the green space between Orice Roth Rd and its sister development to the south, Sawgrass Point apartments.  Another apartment complex, Legacy, is situated east of Veterans Blvd.

PUDs do provide the city more control over the developments details; evidenced by the administration’s insistence that additional guest parking be provided than is included in the current Concept Plan.  Ultimately, it is only a matter of time and sorting out the procedural means to bring Village at Sawgrass before the City Council where it will, inevitably, receive approval.