“Tabled” by Gonzales City Council on March 8, the five-member body cast a 3-1 vote (with one abstention) to deny Chapelwood Estates’ 28-lot subdivision proposed on 10.3 acres adjacent to Gonzales Middle School on Monday. Councilmen Tyler Turner, Tim Riley, and Harold Stewart formed the majority against Johnny Berthelot with Kirk Boudreaux abstaining. The majority reasoned that persistent drainage problems, becoming more acute as development has overtaken the area, posed a threat to public health, safety and welfare.
The vote followed an impassioned plea, and brief history lesson of area drainage issues, from Councilman Berthelot who urged cooperation with the developer to solve those longstanding problems. Berthelot, whose 24-year tenure as Gonzales mayor began with a 1984 election, had won a seat on the city council in 1977 when Kennedy Heights Subdivision was annexed into Gonzales.
The subdivision had enough residents to transform the Town of Gonzales into the City of Gonzales. Several current residents of Kennedy Heights appeared in staunch opposition on Monday along with a handful of neighboring citizens. It was the sixth time for some of them as Chapelwood Estates has appeared on multiple Planning Commission and Council agendas since September 2020.
Early on the developer, AP Gonzales, LLC sought to rezone the acreage and build 39 lots.
Berthelot would concede “a challenging situation” before justifying his approval of Chapelwood Estates:
“All of us put our hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the laws of Gonzales…I gotta live with myself and my conscience.”
It was a hard sell, even for a gregarious politico given to High Popalorum (or was it Low Popahirum). No one would want the aging Berthelot to imperil his immortal soul…but c’mon.
He would itemize a number of projects undertaken by the city, with East Ascension Drainage Commission, aimed at improving area drainage. Those efforts commenced in mid-2020, too late to assuage the long-suffering citizens at City Hall on Monday. Berthelot noted drainage improvements performed in and around Kennedy Heights going back to the 1990s in another attempt to appease concerned residents that fell on deaf ears.
“I view this subdivision as a possible solution…to finally stop water from going into Kennedy Heights,” he toned down the rhetoric a notch.
Making the developer’s case, that water would be diverted north to W Worthey Road after being detained on-site longer than it is currently, Berthelot moved to approve the subdivision. His motion did not receive a second.
Tyler Turner would make the motion to deny, seconded by Tim Riley and a majority-clinching vote from Harold Stewart.