Dear Ascension Parish Residents:
On April 15, 2021 Ascension’s Parish Council emerged from Executive Session to approve Delaune Estates’ (formerly Antebellum Pointe) subdivision preliminary plat. The 6-5 vote was cast settle the lawsuit entitled Delaune v. Ascension Parish Planning Commission, et al. Suit No. 129,606 in the 23rd Judicial District Court. After due consideration I have exercised the Presidential Veto against that vote pursuant to Section 3-04 of Ascension’s Home Rule Charter.
Originally denied by the Planning Commission on March 11, 2020, Antebellum Pointe’s denial was appealed to this council, convened as the Planning Commission Appeals Board on July 27, 2020. The Appeals Board upheld the denial, resulting in the pending litigation cited above.
My decision to exercise the veto was not an easy one, considering the property rights of the Delaune family and the will of 6 council members. I bear the Delaune’s no ill-will and I do not wish to alienate council members as we attempt to forge a productive working relationship. But I was elected to represent all the citizens in our great parish; and protect their health, safety, and welfare.
That duty is one shared by members of the Planning Commission, the body empowered and obligated by our Home Rule Charter to decide the fate of subdivision plats, to approve or deny. Those commissioners did their duty on March 11, followed by the council upholding the Commission’s denial. To revoke those decisions, made by duly authorized officials, invalidates the legally established process by which Ascension has regulated development for a quarter-century.
By approving Delaune Estates’ plat the council has substituted its judgment for that of the Planning Commission. Seven Commissioners receive training specifically tailored to prepare them to make these difficult development decisions both professionally and fairly.
Ascension’s Unified Land Development Code, a detailed and comprehensive document, is difficult to master. Every requirement, procedural and substantive, is included for valid reasons. Overriding those requirements to settle a lawsuit renders the Planning Commission irrelevant and its deliberations and decisions meaningless.
Additionally, Delaune Estates is entitled by the Development Code to resubmit its preliminary plat to the commission because 12 months have elapsed since denial. The council’s action on Thursday ignores the Planning Commission’s sworn duty and discounts the entire Development Code. It also signals every prospective development, inviting more and more litigation whenever the Planning Commission exercises its time-honored discretion in denying any plat.
I do not take the veto power lightly and I will not exercise it unless necessary to ensure the public interest. This is one of those instances.
Clint Cointment-Ascension Parish President