Planning Commission has authority to rescind Oak Grove Townhouses approval; Does it have the will?

Commissioner Julio Dumas’ pre-drafted conditions and/or contingencies for Oak Grove Townhouses approval

Ascension’s Planning Commission has the authority to rescind its March 14 preliminary plat approval of Oak Grove Townhouses.  Does it have the will to do so?

The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for December 12 when nine months will have elapsed since the development’s plat approval.  Paragraph (H) of Section 17-405 in the parish’s Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) reads:

If the subdivider does not submit the final plat and construction plans within six (6) months, the Planning & Zoning Commission shall have the right to rescind approval of the preliminary plat. The Engineering Review Agency shall be responsible for notifying the Planning Commission of any subdividers that fail to submit construction plans within the six (6) month duration. Notification shall be in the form of a status update report presented at a regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting.

According to Ascension’s Planning Director Jerome Fournier there has been no final plat submitted to date, though construction plans have been.  In reply to the Custodian of Records (who was responding to a recent records request) Fournier wrote:

We have not received any final plats for the referenced projects.  These projects have not started construction.  Final plats are submitted to the planning department when construction has been completed and inspected and the project is ready for final acceptance by the planning commission.

It will be some time when the two projects are ready for final approval.

While that may be in keeping with the Planning Department’s standard operating procedure, Section 17-405 (H) of the ULDC calls for submission of the final plat within six months, in addition to construction plans.

The plat in question first came before the Commission on November 8, 2017 when a 4-2 vote denied Oak Grove Townhouses request for preliminary plat approval.  The Parish Council, sitting as Planning Commission Appeals Board on February 15, declined to hear the appeal when District 7 Councilman Aaron Lawler said:

“Certainly, we’re not admitting there were any irregularities.  But I am recommending that we move it back to the Planning Commission to prevent any further issues.  They did get to provide answers to questions,” Lawler confirmed.  “They weren’t given a rebuttal period, and specifically rebut anything they wanted to rebut.  It’s a tenuous argument.”

RECONSIDERATION of once denied Oak Grove Townhouses: The fix is in.

Even though the ULDC does not provide for a rebuttal period, back to the Planning Commission the Oak Grove Townhouses plat went for “reconsideration” after:

Which, of course, resulted in a 4-3 approval of its preliminary plat on March 14.

ABOLISH Planning Commission: The Oak Grove Townhouses debacle

The rules were ignored to benefit the developer of Oak Grove Townhouses.  All we propose is enforcement of the rules to protect the people of Ascension Parish.

Then there’s the matter of Jamestown Crossing (Phases 1 and 2), proposed by the same developer.  Its preliminary plat was approved on May 9…

Matt Pryor has a point: Council is to blame for 4-3 approval of Jamestown Crossing

Neither the final plat or construction plans have been submitted to the Planning Department according to the Custodian of Records.  Six months having elapsed, the Planning Commission “shall have the right to rescind approval of the preliminary plat” too.

We assume the Commission would respond that the clock does not start ticking until minutes of the meeting are approved.  That happened on June 13, one day shy of six months when the Planning Commission next convenes.