Unanimous council adopts temporary ban on fill by resolution, Matassa promises no veto

A unanimous Parish Council adopted a resolution banning the placement of fill “in all areas not rated as Flood Zone X” for 180 days or until a Floodplain Management ordinance is adopted, whichever comes first.  President Kenny Matassa, who vetoed one such ordinance passed unanimously on May 16, assured the governing authority he will keep the veto in his pocket this go around.

Why this council would believe anything Matassa has to say at this late date notwithstanding, the embattled parish president read (at least tried to) a prepared statement into the record culminating in:

I will support any decision made by the Council regarding the minimal height above BFE and maximum amount of fill.

Matassa wanted to ensure the council “understands his position” on the issue which has bedeviled elected officialdom since former drainage maven Bill Roux promised a recommendation of “no fill in the floodplain.”  That was nearly three years ago, and six weeks removed from August 2016’s disastrous flood.  We question whether Matassa “understands his (own) position” given his tortured reading of the prepared statement.

He claimed there are four points of consensus, arrived at after a few closed-door meetings of the Fill Ordinance Committee he impaneled.  The final product, expected to be delivered on August 1 according to Chairwoman Teri Casso, will include:

  • All fill in A/AE Flood Zones must be mitigated to comply with 100-Year Flood elevations;
  • No fill will be allowed in designated Coastal Zones;
  • Managing/Certifying said mitigation facilities will not be addressed until after the ordinance’s adoption; and
  • Zero Net fill is best for development.

As is her wont, Chairwoman Casso applied lip-gloss  on the president’s porcine presentation.  Assuring the folks that she has never supported a moratorium before, Casso found solace in Matassa’s assurance that he will not veto the ordinance which everyone assumes will be enacted on September 5.

That comes after GSA Consulting Engineers’ Glenn Shaheen presents the Fill Ordinance Committee’s product on August 1, followed by introduction of an ordinance on August 15, then adoption after mandatory Public Hearing and vote on September 5.

Even the council’s harshest administration critic, Daniel “Doc” Satterlee appeared satisfied by the proceedings.  If recent history is an accurate predictor, let’s not start counting our chickens.

The Council’s passage of the May 16 ordinance was unanimous…

Lambert (Dempsey), Clouatre, Cagnolatti go with Matassa; Joseph sits it out as Veto STANDS

but Matassa had the necessary four votes to sustain his veto.  The administration’s definitive position at the June 6 veto override proceeding, delivered by a chastened Planning Director Jerome Fournier:

Councilman Bill Dawson: “You are recommending no limit on the amount of fill.  Is that correct?

Jerome Fournier: “That’s what the administration is recommending.”

Has the Fill Ordinance Committee done its work so well?  Who’s to say since the meetings were not public.

Can the administration even enforce the “temporary ban on fill” resolution?  Section 6-07 of Ascension’s Home Rule Charter reads:

An act of the governing authority which is not to have the force of law may be enacted by resolution.  Acts which may be adopted by resolution shall include but shall not be limited to one which;

4. declares a statement of public policy of the governing authority.

How many governing authority policies have been ignored, never enforced by Matassa’s administration?  The former Traffic Impact Analysis policy for new subdivision preliminary plats comes immediately to mind.