Needing eight votes to overturn the Planning Commission’s March 11 denial of Antebellum Pointe’s subdivision preliminary plat, Monday’s vote by the Planning Commission Appeals Board was 6-4 and the plat is denied. The Board is comprised of 11 Ascension Council members, one of whom (first-term Councilman Joel Robert) was not present. Three council newcomers (Chase Melancon, Dal Waguespack, and Michael Mason) joined Aaron Lawler, of all people, in rejecting the plat.
Appellants, Lynn Levy Land Company and The Delaune Family Partnership, may seek judicial redress in State or Federal District Court. It was that threat motivating District 4 Councilman Corey Orgeron’s motion to overturn the Planning Commission’s March denial, citing an alleged communication with Louisiana DOTD. According to Orgeron the state agency opined that additional lanes being built on Interstate 10 would fix traffic woes on Hwy 73.
Of course, DOTD never offered any such opinion during Monday’s meeting, nor at the March 11 hearing by the Planning Commission.
“If we deny them the right to move forward the parish could get popped for $8 million,” Orgeron attempted to justify his motion; adding that the body was limited “to listen to the facts and evidence” in rendering its decision.
Orgeron equated his role, and that of his colleagues, with the judiciary’s. If so, his “testimony” about DOTD was hearsay disallowed by Rules of Evidence.
Of course, any judgment against the parish would have to be accompanied by a finding that the denial was wrongly decided, meaning judicial approval of the preliminary plat. Which would, in turn, drastically reduce any award of damages assuming Ascension’s housing market did not implode in the interim and a sale was finalized.
Four of his colleagues were unmoved by Orgeron’s analysis. Will the I-10 expansion fix traffic on Hwy 73?
“We don’t know,” admitted Parish Engineering Review Agent Shawn Sherrow. “There was an assumption made (by the developer’s Traffic Impact Study). I hope they’re right.”
Councilman Chase Melancon recognized the reasons for initial denial by the Planning Commission, the intersection at Hwy 73/White Road dropped to a Level of Service “E” while Subdivision Regulations require “D” or better. Unwilling to accept that I-10 improvements would rectify the issue, Melancon proposed to defer the plat and “a new Traffic Impact Study when the third (I-10_ lane opens.” By that time a new school and hospital would be open too, and “we can prove, with actual cars” if the proposition is accurate.
He gained no traction and the vote was had.
6 Votes to Overturn (Approve Antebellum Pointe)
- Alvin “Coach” Thomas
- Corey Orgeron
- Travis Turner
- Dempsey Lambert
- Teri Casso
- John Cagnolatti
4 Votes Against (Deny Antebellum Pointe)
- Chase Melancon
- Dal Waguespack
- Michael Mason
- Aaron Lawler
Needing a 2/3 super-majority (8) of the total 11 members, the motion failed and Antebellum Pointe was denied.