Conway Village residents oppose encroachment by Reserve at Conway homes

Conway Development’s Master Plan

14 months have elapsed without Ascension’s Planning Commission considering a new residential subdivision preliminary plat, and the City of Gonzales’ counterpart has been similarly inactive.  That changed, or was supposed to, on Tuesday as the Council Meeting Room at City Hall was filled by residents of Conway Village to oppose Conway Development, LLC’s plat map for Phase 4 of Reserve at Conway.  The developer pulled two agenda items in the face of that opposition, which did little to allay residents’ concerns and sometimes withering criticism.

Phase 3 of Conway Village (122 lots on 21 acres) was also scheduled for hearing.  Reserve at Conway envisions 159 lots on 56 acres.  Residential density and the overall number of lots, and the corresponding adverse impact on traffic and/or drainage, had nothing to do with ardent opposition.

That is a far cry from the norm when the city’s (and Ascension Parish’s) Planning Commission considers a new development.  Residents of the Village do not want new neighbors building homes in Phase 4 of Reserve at Conway in such close proximity.

Conway Village, and the entire development from its inception for that matter, has always been marketed to high-end homebuyers sold the vision of exclusivity in a self-contained community along the lines of River Ranch in Lafayette.  In point of fact, Southern Lifestyle Development’s whole pitch, going back to the very beginning, utilized River Ranch in the brochures.  The parent company also promised to build a commercial phase along Hwy 44 before the rest, another false promise derailed, business being business and all.

NOTE:  Conway Development, LLC was incorporated on May 7, 2015 and has two officers; Southern Lifestyle Development Company, LLC being one.

None of which is to say that Conway Village’s residents are unhappy.  Far from it as everyone assessing the residential experience gave Conway Village exceedingly high marks.

Several of those residents, relatively new citizens of Gonzales who relocated to acreage annexed into the city limits a decade ago, addressed the Planning Commission from the speakers’ podium.  Many others were heard during an impromptu Question & Answer session led by Gonzales CAO Scot Byrd, an informational exercise allowed since the subject agenda items had been pulled.

To a man they decried the prospect that DSLD, LLC would be developing Phase 4 of Reserve at Conway depicted to abut Conway Village to the south.  DSLD, owned by Saun Sullivan of Denham Springs, has built “tract homes” in the Reserve’s initial phases.  Conway Village residents are worried by possible diminution of property value and compromised quality of life.

A synopsis of their expressed concerns:

  • Current homeowners “dropped up to $500,000 on custom-built homes” with the expectation that DSLD, LLC would not build tract homes next door.
  • It would “change the concept from what it was advertised to be…and what we bought.”
  • We were “sold on a concept of an opportunity (not just a home), equity and value.”
  • We “took a loss” on a similar home to those in Reserve to buy into Conway Village.
  • We were promised that only “the same architectural style, custom-built homes” would be allowed.
  • “If we wanted to live in a spec home to save money, we’d have bought in Reserve.  We were sold on a certain vision.”
  • “This is our forever home (and we don’t want to be surrounded by) starter homes.”

Multiple speakers claimed they had been assured that a clear separation would be maintained from Reserve at Conway.

But what was approved by the City Council going back nearly a decade?  CAO Scot Byrd was unsure when/if the pulled agenda items would be resubmitted.  If so the Planning Commission will recommend approval or denial to the City Council where the ultimate authority is.