Cointment: Veto a step backward; work to do on 3′ fill law

Clint Cointment

As I watched the Parish Council fail to override President Matassa’s veto of the development fill ordinance passed unanimously on May 16, I realized how much work must be done to protect our citizens from worsening drainage.  The ordinance, by no means perfect, was a starting point and I would not have exercised the presidential veto power.  It is imperative that we confront these longstanding and complex issues.

It is unfortunate that so much time has been wasted, but what’s done is done (or undone in this case).  We cannot lose sight of the ultimate goal, protecting our residents from barely-regulated over-development threatening real harm to homes too often inundated with floodwater.  In January 2020 we are going to address the problems, beginning with amendments to the Land Development Code (and repealing the new Master Plan) to ensure new subdivisions will not adversely impact existing homes, even if we have to go back to square one.

And we are going to enforce the code, no matter which developer cries about it.

Do not fret over the veto.  The ordinance proposed was a flawed document that did not go far enough to protect citizens.  An arbitrary 3′ cap on fill, without forethought or supporting rationale, was going to require amendment anyway.

For example, some new subdivisions have “only” added three feet of fill and still flooded adjoining property.  The vetoed ordinance would have done nothing to prevent this.  While it was better than nothing, too many problems went unresolved.  Some areas of the parish can sustain more than three feet of fill without adverse impact.

Here’s what 3′ of fill next door can do

The overriding (no pun intended) point I want to make is this; nearly three years after the worst flooding in parish history, more thought and effort should have gone into the ordinance than happened.  Consider building elevation requirements.

Also vetoed was the council’s attempt to raise construction elevation by adding a foot to the current Base Flood Elevation, plus 1′ which does not apply to X-Zones in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.  Those zones, shaded gray on the parish Flood Map, are not bound by elevation requirements, something which merited more discussion before adoption.

Parish government seems intent to bring east bank sewer about.  Other parishes in the sewer business require elevation above the nearest sewer manhole (for obvious reasons).  Have our representatives even discussed the practice?  Many other questions were never answered, not even asked.

Let me be clear.  I will always protect residents from potential flooding due to fill added to adjacent property.  Always.


Clint Cointment-The Clear Choice