71 permits issued by Gonzales this year as Council considers 28-lot subdivision on Monday

Concrete trucks in and out of Sanctuary West subdivision [on Pecan Grove Ave]-Friday

Gonzales City Council is set to consider Chapelwood Estates’ preliminary plat, a 28-lot subdivision, on Monday.  There is much to consider; determined public opposition by nearby residents and a recommendation to deny the plat by the city’s Planning Commission versus a developer who met regulatory criteria to build the subdivision.  Gonzales’ Planning Commission meetings are becoming as contentious as those of Ascension Parish which have drawn public ire for close to a decade.

Unlike residential subdivisions proposed in the parish (outside of Gonzales’ city limits), the overwhelming public criticism focused on drainage deficiencies with traffic congestion a mere afterthought.  Gonzales residents tend to be older, without children and many retirees who do not have to endure interminable daily commutes to work and/or school.  But, yes, traffic congestion is a problem.

The city has endured, for lack of a better word, rampant residential construction on par with Ascension Parish. Roughly one-tenth of Ascension’s population, the city issued 71 residential construction permits from the beginning of 2021 through February 26.  70 of those permits are located in or around three subdivision developments.

  • 39 building permits issued for Sanctuary West subdivision, the development under construction on either side of the road leading to Pecan Grove Elementary from E Worthy, this year (average construction cost-$174,149);
  • 20 more were issued by Gonzales’ Building Department in Conway Subdivision (average construction cost-$271,665); and
  • 11 in Arbor Crossing which abuts Southwood Subdivision to the west on the south side of Hwy 30 (average construction cost-$185,382).

The single permit was issued on Linen Ave, a sliver of the city north of Bayou Narcisse Road.  Average construction costs for each permit issued comes to $207,244.

Public sentiment inside the city seems to be trending toward antipathy for new residential development.  Residents in the Orice Roth/Worthey Road corridor have seen enough and they have been vocal about it.  The same goes for those long-suffering citizens on Hwy 30 who have expressed borderline outrage that Arbor Crossing is under construction.

Conway Subdivision, built on acreage annexed into the city for the express purpose of the subdivision, is a different situation altogether.  South of Interstate 10 on the east side of Hwy 44, neighboring residents to the south and outside the city limits are left to bemoan Conway while Gonzales citizens are oblivious to its existence.  Suffice it to say that the existing population inside and outside the city have made up their minds about new subdivisions.

That’s what confronts Chapelwood Estates’ developer, AP Gonzales, LLC of Denham Springs which hired Quality Engineering & Surveying to design its plat.  In 2020 the company attempted to have the 10-acre site rezoned to a less restrictive category to allow 39 lots, an application rejected by the city’s Zoning Commission (it is the same five commissioners as Planning).  Reverting to the 28-lot design, Quality Engineering had already designed the drainage works to accommodate the larger development.

Coincidentally, the City Council began requiring Drainage Impact Studies after Chapelwood Estates’ application to rezone was rejected.  Presenting its study on March 1, Gonzales’ appointed Planning Commission recommended denial anyway.  Tonight it is up to the elected City Council to determine Chapelwood Estates’ ultimate fate.