Satterlee-chaired committee continues improvement of Development Code

Doc Satterlee (l) with Chase Melancon (file photo)

Since Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee assumed the chairmanship of Ascension’s Council committee on Strategic Planning in January of 2016 new subdivision approvals has been a primary focus.  A regular critic of the Planning Commission which approves (and once in a while, denies) Major Subdivision preliminary and final plats, Satterlee has ruffled more than a few of his colleagues’ feathers.  Ever so gradually, though, real change for the better has been accomplished.

When a colleague like Councilman Aaron Lawler comes up with an idea to improve drainage by requiring greater capacity in detention ponds it is not to EA Drainage that he looks for help; it is to Satterlee’s committee.  That’s because EA Drainage Chairman Dempsey Lambert would (and maybe has) refused to place the item on the agenda he controls.  Last week Lawler’s move to increase required capacity from a 10-year to a 25-year storms passed through Strategic Planning and onto the full council’s agenda where it will become law.

Most recently Satterlee pushed (and make no mistake, it is Satterlee who does the pushing) to disallow approval of preliminary plats that include “contingencies/conditions.”  A compromise was reached at Thursday’s meeting of the Council when he amended language recommended by Strategic Planning to apply the prohibition to final plats.  The Parish Attorney was directed to draft appropriate legislation for introduction and, hopefully, adoption of an ordinance.

No more kowtowing to some developer who attempts to avoid or delay installing requisite infrastructure until it serves the business interest.  It’s another step in the right direction (assuming the best interest of existing residents is the direction we’re talking about).  And it follows on the heels of Doc Satterlee’s effort to take plat approval authority from the Planning Commission in favor of the elected Council, a measure that all but the development community and its apologists must applaud.

Parish Attorney O’Neil Parenton opined that would require abolishing the Planning Commission…

Livingston Parish Council approves/denies subdivisions (but Parenton says Ascension CANNOT)

but he is WRONG (again).  According to Louisiana Revised Statute 33:103(F) “any parish or municipality with a home rule charter may avail itself of the power and authority granted herein to a planning commission.”  

Which could not be any clearer though Parenton’s obstinacy resulted in the request for an Attorney General’s opinion.  Another delay tactics from a recalcitrant administration, and too many council members content with the status quo.

Doc Satterlee is not among them.  Since January 2016 his committee has taken up:

TRANSPORTATION IMPACT FEES.  After a Finance sub-committee manned by engineers and developers wasted nearly three years, Strategic Planning took over in early 2016; adopting the fees by ordinance within a few months.

Council adopts 10-year old Impact Fee ordinance

ABOLITION OF THREE MEMBER PLANNING APPEALS BOARD.  In 2016 three subdivisions were proposed that were so ill-conceived the Planning Commission would not approve.   Now that’s ill-conceived but not so bad that a three-member, Kenny Matassa-appointed appeals panel wouldn’t ignore the seven-member commission.  In steps Doc Satterlee (and make no mistake, Satterlee accomplished this against his colleagues’ wishes)…

TRANSPORTATION IMPACT STUDIES.  Everyone joked about the worthless Traffic Impact Studies required of every Major Subdivision plat, but nobody did anything about it.  Not, that is, until Doc Satterlee took the reins.  Unfortunately for the people of Ascension Parish, Satterlee’s colleagues removed the item to the Transportation Committee in April of 2017.  It languished there for 14 months until, finally…

A good day for Ascension; Traffic Impact Study policy with teeth introduced

New Traffic Impact Analysis procedure is having a real impact.  The frequency of subdivision proposals has dwindled because developers must actually invest in meaningful infrastructure improvements.

DRAINAGE IMPACT STUDIES.  Major subdivisions also require drainage studies which are not much better than the old TIS (worthless, that is).  Strategic Planning transitioned to drainage after TIS were hijacked to the Transportation Committee.

Who knew? Drainage Impact Studies just as “worthless” as Traffic counterparts

Unfortunately, East Ascension Drainage Board took this one over as part of an ongoing Floodplain Management Plan effort.  HNTB finished its job five months ago…