“My tax bill this year, for real estate in Ascension Parish, is roughly $280,000,” boasted Grady Melancon who sought to rezone 330 acres from Conservation (most restrictive) to Industrial at the final 2017 Council meeting on Thursday. “The average tax is $200 for a house on Robert Wilson Rd; just a comparison.” And a six-member Council majority played Santa Claus to Melancon’s Mr. Grinch, granting his request to rezone Buzzard Roost, located north of Hwy 30 just outside the City of Gonzales.
Melancon’s boast elicited howls of derision and one expletive-laced response borne of the frustration palpable in the Council Chamber last night. Lest we offend the sensibilities of our more delicate readers, we paraphrase the sentiment expressed by certain residents of Robert Wilson Road whose homes adjoin Melancon’s (now) Industrial-zoned acreage:
You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are a heel,
You’re as cuddly as a cactus, you’re as charming as an eel, Mr. Grinch,
You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel!
Lyrics by Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel
Melancon would describe three meetings with residents and their Council representative, Travis Turner, whose “NO” vote was not joined by his brother-in-arms, Oliver Joseph. One would be hard-pressed to find the last vote where Joseph opposed Turner, and vice versa.
“I don’t need someone to stare me in the face and stab me in the back,” one resident summarized Melancon’s promises.
“You’re a liar; and not a good person,” offered another.
The Council Chamber fracas would resume outside the meeting room.
Inside the chamber Ascension Planning Director Jerome Fournier, described as “clueless” by a predecessor, tried to make Melancon’s case to a Council which had already made it’s decision. Fournier fumbled his way through the acreage’s zoning changes since 1998 until another resident, Kelly Anderson, helped him out with a series of zoning maps depicting those changes.
“It’s not about who the landowner is. It’s about what the rezone application is,” Anderson argued with the naivety befitting a relative newcomer to Ascension Parish.
Most surprising, in retrospect, is that four Council members defied Grady Melancon who took credit for developing 22 subdivisions in his family’s “75 years in business.” Councilmen Daniel “Doc” Satterlee, Aaron Lawler, and Todd Lambert joined Travis Turner in the minority.
In the majority was Councilman Dempsey Lambert who had an epiphany on Thursday. After a decade on the Council he realized that Ascension is no longer governed by the Police Jury system, voting against his colleague whose district the actionable item is sited. Lambert’s granddaddy, the legendary Police Juryman Gilbert Buratt probably received campaign contributions from Grady Melancon (the Ethics Board online Campaign Finance data base does not go back that far).
“I’m concerned that we have zoning that allows residential right next to heavy industrial,” Council Chairman Bill Dawson interjected at one point.
Not so concerned that he voted against Melancon’s application, though, which should come as little surprise.
Dawson was present, with the Parish President he endorsed, to jam Melancon’s Riverton subdivision through Ascension’s Planning Commission in March of 2016. It was the single greatest travesty committed by a feckless commission your writer has ever witnessed. The Planning Commission doubles as the Zoning Commission which recommended approval of Melancon’s Buzzard Roost request by a 3-2 vote in August.
The rest of Thursday’s Council majority consisted of Randy Clouatre, John Cagnolatti, and Benny Johnson; none of whom contributed anything to the discussion.
No one should be surprised by the Buzzard Roost vote.
You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch
You’re a nasty wasty skunk
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch
The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote
“Stink, stank, stunk”!