Befitting the momentousness of the occasion, President Clint Cointment introduced an ordinance to enact a Moratorium Regarding New Developments as Ascension’s sparkling new Council Meeting Room was christened on Monday. Met with overwhelming public approval, Cointment’s proposal cited five rationale for “a twelve month moratorium on any future subdivision of property.” Boxing even the most ardent pro-development council member in, the 11-member body will decide the ordinance’s fate in the coming weeks.
Considering the minimum two-week notice of the requisite public hearing, the council vote could occur at the June 3 meeting in Donaldsonville. Whenever it happens, it will be political suicide for an east bank representative to oppose the moratorium. It is intended to afford breathing space for the Cointment administration to consider the merits of:
- Assessment of a potential Drainage Impact Fee – The money produced can only be spent to offset the drainage impact of new developments and can go only to projects identified in advance. While we recognize that our drainage ordinance is written is such a way that new developments are supposed to be designed to reduce the flow of water off-site; evidence suggest that this isn’t enough, and more needs to be done to improve the capacity of our drainageways.
- Density Adjustments – Consideration of reducing residential density across all zoning classifications- Understanding that a base density of 3, 2 or 1 unit per acre is easier to calculate, parish government will explore alternatives to determine development density by considering all of the factors that affect each piece of property (road width, flood zone, wetlands, servitudes and easements, etc.)
- Address Subdivision Construction Specifications – These specifications were adopted in June of 2017 and need to be reviewed and improved. Consideration will be given to addressing off-site drainage through a subdivision by increasing the stormwater detention requirements, upstream and downstream impacts and site design.
- Regional Stormwater Detention – Other communities have figured out ways to purchase properties to expand the capabilities of detaining excess flood waters. Ascension Parish has potential
locations that could benefit from this type of drainage feature and we should understand the ramifications and possibilities of implementing this type of system.
- Review of the fill ordinance – In Sept 2019, the fill ordinance was revised and it was understood at that time, that work still needed to be done.
“It’s an opportunity to clean up our development code and make development a part of the solution,” President Cointment explained, echoing a decades-long litany of public criticism. “Input from all sides, not only from the council but parish residents, is my goal.”
Notably absent from Cointment’s pledge, the development community whose input should be ignored, even though anyone and everyone is entitled to three minutes at the public speakers’ rostrum. Even Brandon Ivey, self-proclaimed Chairman of the Home Builders Association of Greater Baton Rouge who “represents nine parishes” and professed to have “been working with parishes and other municipalities…because we want to be part of the solution…and help you guys in any way we can.”
At which point Chairwoman Teri Casso gaveled the audience to quiescence, you know, the audience peopled by actual residents of Ascension Parish, Ivey’s pitch was perceived for what it was…a flimsy deflection from any responsibility for the overdevelopment of once rural Ascension Parish. We digress.
As President Cointment noted, the moratorium would not apply to any subdivision already approved in the parish and would not affect Ascension’s three municipalities. There are approximately 2,000 subdivision lots already approved, “a three to four year backlog according to the Permitting Department.”
“We don’t have all the answers right now,” the parish president conceded, citing the 54 structures which received water during this week’s rain event. “But we know there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.”
Considering the applause generated by his statement, the PEOPLE of Ascension Parish seem to agree.