Bill Roux: “We will be suggesting no fill in a floodplain!” Hints at moratorium.

Un-ratified DPW Director Bill Roux (file photo)

Un-ratified DPW Director Bill Roux (file photo)

Is it possible the powers that be in Ascension do not know where the floodplains are in the parish?  On Monday un-ratified Public Works (he doubles as Drainage) Director Bill Roux told East Ascension Drainage Board that a report on Floodplain Management would be prepared.  His promise to push for elimination of fill by new development in floodplains raised a few eye-brows; and dropped a few jaws among the more attentive Board members.

“I think this is something critical to the parish,” offered Roux, who confessed to 17 years of parish government employment.  “We really need to implement Floodplain Management.  And I’ll tell you right off the bat, once we define what is a floodplain; and map out the exact criteria for a floodplain; and the locations of the floodplains, we will be suggesting no fill within a floodplain if it impacts drainage on flooding situations.”

Wait a second.  Could it be possible that Ascension Parish is just getting around to considering Floodplain Management?

All the way back in 1992, that year before Ascension’s Home Rule Charter was adopted, the last Police Jury enacted:

Chapter 9.5 – FLOOD DAMAGE PREVENTION

in the Code of Ordinances.

Sec. 9.5-2. – Findings of fact.

(b) These flood losses are created by the cumulative effect of obstructions in floodplains which cause an increase in flood heights and velocities

Under Sec. 9.5-4. – Methods of reducing flood losses; the OCs (Original Councilmen) adopted into law:

“In order to accomplish its purposes, this chapter uses the following methods:

(3)  Control the alteration of natural floodplains, stream channels, and natural protective barriers, which are involved in the accommodation of floodwaters;

(4) Control filling, grading, dredging and other development which may increase flood damage;

(5) Prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers which will unnaturally divert floodwaters or which may increase flood hazards to other lands.

These laws, just like the law of gravity which directs those floodwaters, were not suspended over the last 24 years. They do seem to have been ignored though.  And, by the way, our forefathers also defined floodplain.

“Floodplain or flood-prone area means any land area susceptible to being inundated by water from any source.”

Prairieville’s Councilman Daniel “Doc” Satterlee picked up on Bill Roux’s “no fill” recommendation.

“Is that sort of an admission that development-induced back-flooding of adjacent properties to new development contributed, at least some, to the homes that were flooded in the Great Flood of 2016?” queried Satterlee.  “We’ve been led to believe it was 100% caused by the rain event.”

Satterlee, no shrinking violet, blamed “over-development, irresponsible development in floodplain areas” for some flooded homes.

His District 2 counterpart, Bill Dawson, suggested “a pause in development” while Roux’s effort to locate floodplains is carried out.  It follows on District 9 Councilman Todd Lambert’s September statement:

“I think we need to shut down all new development until we understand the flood that caused people to flood where it never has happened before, if we need a special meeting I am good. We can not do nothing.”

Lambert walked that statement back on Monday, as only he could.

“10-year storms, we’re having them regular.  We’re having 25-year storms regular; and 50 years.  They’re climbing on us,” he recommended more onerous drainage requirements for development in a multi-oxymoronic passage.  “Developers are doing the job with detention, and retention, and discharging their outflow.”

Which was a betrayal of his own statement from September 15’s EA Drainage meeting:

“My biggest concern right now is a lot of the watersheds are getting filled up with subdivisions.  What can we do?  You know we don’t control wetland permits,” Lambert passed that buck to US Army Corps of Engineers.  “I really believe that some of the subdivisions, you know, this flood, no doubt, was one of the worst we’ve seen.  But I’ve seen some homes flooded that, possibly, maybe wouldn’t have if we wouldn’t have filled the watersheds up with subdivisions and houses.

Bill Roux put the onus on Ascension’s Planning and Zoning Commission, saying:

“(The Commission) may want to implement certain things right now to kind of slow things down until we come up with a better plan on Floodplain Management…Any land can be developed,” according to Roux who suggested “Raise it…put it on piers.”

If Roux had attended Planning Commission meetings in 2015 he would have heard the Commission Chairman, Matt Pryor, blame the Council and state legislative delegation for failing to act.

“Don’t blame us”…Planning Commissioner Matt Pryor claims lack of authority.

Or, as Doc Satterlee pointed out, the current law might be enforced.

“Thou shalt not flood they neighbor,” he summarized two Louisiana Civil Code articles.

Louisiana Civil Code includes Article 655.  Natural drainage, reads:

An estate situated below is bound to receive the surface waters that flow naturally from an estate situated above unless an act of man has created the flow.

Article 656 Obligations of the Owners adds:

The owner of the servient estate may not do anything to prevent the flow of the water.

The buck, having been passed around enough for one evening, landed in Parish President Kenny Matassa’s lap. He had nothing to add.

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