John Cagnolatti’s first term on Parish Council should be his last!

Kenny Matassa with District 10 Councilman John Cagnolatti (file photo)

Is it possible that Councilman John Cagnolatti is not aware that Ascension’s Planning Commission enacted a new Master Land Use Plan on May 29?  It certainly sounded like it during the last Strategic Planning meeting on Thursday when Cagnolatti attempted, completely off topic, to rationalize his vote to delay reform of Planning Commission procedure.  The item being discussed was divestiture of the Planning Commission’s authority to approve new subdivision plats.

Cagnolatti said: 

“One additional piece of the puzzle, if you want to call it that; Planning and Zoning, which is their right, matter of fact it’s their duty, to request a Master Plan.  It’s a guideline for them to help enforce or help them understand the future growth of the parish.  We’ve rolled in the transportation aspect, we’ve rolled in the drainage aspect of it.  When completed it’s gonna be, I think, a fabulous document.

And what it does, it gives the Planning and Zoning, and other agencies in the parish, a guideline.  The one (Master Plan) they have now, I’m sorry, it’s a 1993 document isn’t it Ken (Dawson, the Chief Administrative Officer)?  Or something like that.

When completed?  Actually, the original Master Plan was adopted in 1998 and amended a few times in the 2000s.  Cagnolatti did not respond to a September 13 email affording him the opportunity to clarify, including a link found on Ascension’s governmental website:

It says it, right there on the website, “The Ascension Parish Master Land Use Plan was adopted by the Planning Commission on May 29, 2019.”  While Cagnolatti can be excused for not visiting the site, one would think he’d have heard something about it.  He even attended a couple of meetings last year as CPEX ignored the will of mere citizens…

and Cagnolatti included the following among his accomplishments when afforded the opportunity to assess his first term; “Master Plan  – Contracted  CPEX to develop comprehensive Master Plan to include land use, transportation, drainage and recreation to  provide Planning Commission guidelines for managing future growth.”  He was also appointed by his pal, the parish president, as one of 30 stakeholders who, according to CPEX, recommended the Master Plan to the Planning Commission.

That 30-member Stakeholder Committee met on six occasions, never in public view, and none of those meetings were recorded or memorialized in any way.

Cagnolatti would add to his Thursday Strategic Planning comments:

“That (the 1993 plan he’d referred to) is not current.  And the parish has changed so much since that was adopted, and brought in and started being used.  I speak to (Planning Director) Jerome (Fournier), I speak to (Parish Planner) Eric (Poche), I speak to (Zoning Official) Lance (Brock) ; ‘Do y’all have the tools you need?’  They just look at me and give me a funny face.”

Maybe those funny looks are in lieu of chastisement for Cagnolatti not knowing a new Master Plan was adopted; we digress.

“I’m not arguing that things shouldn’t be changed but we’re having a new revelation, if you want to call it that, with the Master Plan coming out.  And I would like to see how that might work under the current system.  It gives them new guidelines, it gives them new ways to approach it.  And it’s not a two-year, it’s not a five-year…they’re looking out 30, 40 years to see, ‘how do we want Ascension Parish to look?  How do we want it to grow?’

To me, that’s smart growth when you try and determine where you wanna put parks and recreation, where you want to improve drainage, where you wanna develop where it’s sensible; and where do you wanna restrict development when it doesn’t make sense to do so.  I think the Master Plan’s gonna bring a lot to the table.  And that’s my point.”