District 9 Councilman Todd Lambert took a stand against an opportunistic developer at Monday’s meeting of the Transportation Committee, rejecting a “tenuous argument” and the offer of $270,000 toward a roundabout at the intersection of Hwy 934/Roddy Road. Citing traffic concerns, Ascension’s Planning Commission denied the 105-lot Amalfi Cove targeted for Roddy Road near its intersection with Cannon Road (the latter being among Ascension’s narrowest). The developer, Ross Berthelot, promised an appeal which never came after Councilman Lambert expressed his disapproval.
So Berthelot, among the smuggest individuals to appear before the Planning Commission, attempted to outflank the Planning Commission Appeals Board (the Council is the appellate board). Berthelot’s new tactic, offering to double the requisite Transportation Impact Fee earmarking a second $270,000 for the roundabout described above. According to Mike Enlow, Assistant Director of Public Works the roundabout is not included in the MoveAscension project list, but could be built for $1.5 million.
That would leave Ascension Parish taxpayers on the hook for over $1 million for a project deemed unworthy of construction, at least on the Priority 1 list.
Back in November Commissioner Julio Dumas crafted a series of contingencies/conditions for approval in another tortuous motion seconded by that other development sycophant on the commission, Morrie Bishop. Dumas’ contingencies included:
- That the traffic signal described above “be fully functional” prior to any construction
- That Ross Berthelot’s company use Cannon as an outlet instead of Roddy and widen a section of Cannon to parish standards for new roads
- That the Parish Council agree to grant Berthelot a credit against his development’s Transportation Impact Fee obligation
Which raised an assortment of problems.
Most notably, DOTD controls installation of the traffic signal recommended by Dumas. Ascension Parish operates a total of ZERO traffic signals; and, as Planning Director Jerome Fournier pointed out, Cannon Road is not on the list of roads approved by the Council for receipt of Impact Fee dollars. Berthelot claimed that Ascension’s development code does not allow access onto Cannon anyway.
Four commissioners would not go for it, eventually voting to deny Amalfi Cove. Aaron Chaisson, Wade Schexnaydre, Tony Christy, and Ken Firmin voted to deny. Dumas, Bishop, and the chairman, Matthew Pryor voted to approve.
Foregoing his appellate rights after running into Councilman Todd Lambert, Ross Berthelot’s flank attack was also repulsed by Lambert on Monday. Lambert’s mastery of his constituents’ concerns was on full display as he itemized drainage/flooding hot spots which would be more acute by building up the 37 acre site targeted by Amalfi Cove.