One month into a 9-month moratorium on subdivision of property and Ascension received the Census data indicating an 18% population increase over the last decade. 126,500 respondents to the census taker called Ascension home, the number is an undercount (no census counts everyone and COVID-19 made the process less reliable). Still, significant growth ranking second behind St. Bernard Parish which experienced a near total diaspora after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
St. Bernard’s 21% increase was achieved with 8,000+ new residents compared to Ascension’s 19,000+ newbies.
Subdivision moratorium in place until April 15, 2022, will Ascension explosive population growth plateau? There are just under 2,000 approved, yet to be occupied residential subdivision lots which (if the 2.84 persons/Ascension household noted by the Census holds true) comes to another 5,600 residents or so, not counting potential occupancy of 6,400 more “housing units.”
It may not seem like it (most likely because Certificates of Occupancy are issued within three years of initial approval), but subdivision preliminary plat approvals are down significantly. The dividing line seems to be the Great Flood of August 2016 with 25 preliminary plats approved totaling 1,762 lots since the darkest days in Ascension history.
.42 preliminary plats/month (30 lots/month) have been approved over the 59-month span since July 2016. Those numbers were dwarfed in the 31 months before the flood, beginning with January 2014. During that span 28 subdivision preliminary plats (.9 per month), 3,870 lots (125 per month) were approved by Ascension’s Planning Commission.
Pre-flood approvals by year:
- 2014-9 preliminary plats with 825 lots
- 2015-14 preliminary plats with 2072 lots
- 2016 (January-July)-5 preliminary plats with 973 lots
Post-flood approvals by year:
- 2016 (August-December)-2 preliminary plats with 96 lots
- 2017-6 preliminary plats with 278 lots
- 2018-9 preliminary plats with 711 lots
- 2019-2 preliminary plats with 56 lots
- 2020-2 preliminary plats with 180 lots
- 2021-4 preliminary plats with 441 lots
How much more developable acreage does the parish even have? Excluding the west bank, where the last new subdivision was built in the 1970s, that amount is dwindling.
Compartmentalizing preliminary plat approvals by council district for ease locating any given subdivision, the numbers are broken down by pre-flood, and post-flood. From January 2013 through July, 2016:
- District 2 (light blue in the southeast corner of map, represented by Kent Schexnaydre, then Bill Dawson beginning in 2016)-2 preliminary plats with 506 lots, all in 2015 with the bulk in Pelican Crossing subdivision;
- District 3 (dark green, Councilman Travis Turner)-6 preliminary plats with 1,129 lots (780 of them in Riverton subdivision);
- District 4 (light blue in northwest corner, Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee)-2 preliminary plat with 218 lots;
- District 5 (blue in northeast corner, Councilman Dempsey Lambert)-5 preliminary plats with 359;
- District 6 (brown, northeast corner, Councilman Randy Clouatre)-1 preliminary plat with 45;
- District 7 (yellow, Councilman Chris Loar, then Aaron Lawler beginning in 2016)-5 preliminary plats with 557 lots;
- District 8 (orange, western edge of map, Councilwoman Teri Casso)-3 preliminary plats with 438 lots;
- District 9 (purple, Councilman Todd Lambert)-1 preliminary plat with 316 lots;
- District 10 (gray, center of map, Councilman Bryan Melancon followed by John Cagnolatti in 2016); no preliminary plats;
- District 11 (pink, Councilman Benny Johnson)-3 preliminary plats with 302 lots.
From August 2016 to the present:
- District 2 (Councilman Joel Robert since January 2020)-2 preliminary plats with 90 lots;
- District 3 (Turner)-2 preliminary plats with 221 lots;
- District 4 (Councilman Corey Orgeron since January 2020)-1 preliminary plat (the ultra-controversial Antebellum Pointe/Delaune Estates) with 237 lots;
- District 5-(Lambert)-3 preliminary plats with 187 lots;
- District 6 (Councilman Chase Melancon since January 2020)-no preliminary plats;
- District 7 (Lawler)-5 preliminary plats with 406 lots;
- District 8 (Casso)-5 preliminary plats with 221 lots;
- District 9 (Councilman Dal Waguespack since January 2020)-1 preliminary plat (Windermere Crossing) with 103 lots;
- District 10 (Cagnolatti)-no preliminary plats;
- District 11 (Councilman Michael Mason since January 2020)-6 preliminary plats (both approved prior to Mason’s inauguration) with 393 lots.
Two councilmen, Travis Turner and John Cagnolatti, represent districts including approximately half of the City of Gonzales where development is running rampant (the city’s population increased by 25% since the last census. Those new subdivisions are not reflected herein.
When the current moratorium is lifted, what areas of the parish will be targeted by the development community? How much more Medium Intensity (RM)-zoned acreage is left?