Five new members named to P & Z, Schexnaydre reappointed, Dumas out

Commissioner Julio Dumas’ pre-drafted conditions and/or contingencies for Oak Grove Townhouses approval

When the Parish Council’s Personnel Committee recommended six applicants not named Julio Dumas to fill six open seats on the Planning & Zoning Commission on March 15, two members lobbied for a second vote to rectify the omission.  That hypocrisy (it was, according to multiple sources, Personnel Chairwoman Teri Casso and Council Chairman John Cagnolatti) fueled speculation that Dumas’ name would be substituted for one of the top six-ranked applicants last night when appointments were made official by the full council.  It did not happen and Dumas’ second tenure on the commission, six years in duration, has come to an end.

The top six applicants (see below) were appointed pro forma, each by acclimation in turn without a syllable uttered in opposition.  The newly-appointed members, in order of ranking below, will join holdover Michael Todd Varnado at the next meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission on April 13.  Varnado is half-way into a two-year term.

NOTE: In parentheses appears the composite score (the lower the better) tallied from the rankings submitted by five Council/Personnel Committee members (Teri Casso, John Cagnolatti, Alvin “Coach” Thomas, Joel Robert, and Chase Melancon).  Chairman Cagnolatti was sitting Ex Officio with Personnel Vice Chair Corey Orgeron absent.  Had Orgeron bothered to attend, and voted with Casso and Cagnolatti, it would have turned the tide in Julio Dumas’ favor.

  • Nicholas Miller (19), appointed to full two-year term
  • Wade Schexnaydre (19), re-appointed to a third non-consecutive two-year term
  • Mark Villa (22), appointed to a full two-year term
  • Dwayne Bailey (29), appointed to a full two-year term
  • Max Nasser (29), appointed to finish the term of Matthew Pryor who resigned his seat
  • Randy Clouatre, Jr. (31), appointed to finish the term of Ken Firmin who resigned his seat

Virulently pro-development along with fellow commissioners Matthew Pryor and Morrie Bishop, the Planning Commission was a rigged game for the better part of the last decade.  It was a rubberstamp for any and every subdivision developer’s preliminary plat, no matter the deleterious effects imposed upon existing residents.  It was engineered by successive parish councils which routinely rigged the Personnel Committee proceedings to ensure their hand-selected candidates got appointed, and permitted by parish presidents who rarely got involved (with a few glaring exceptions and always on the pro-developer side).

That has certainly changed, especially the chief executive where the current occupant has taken several strong stands aimed at developer accountability.  President Clint Cointment was the moving force behind the current subdivision moratorium.

Unanimous Council extends subdivision moratorium through May 31

Julio Dumas was the highest ranked applicant in 2016, another instance when six vacancies on P & Z needed filling, thence twice reappointed.  It was the second six-year tenure enjoyed by Dumas who was first appointed in 2006, lasting through 2011 when the entire nine-member commission was abolished, then reconstituted as a seven-member panel.  Over 60 new subdivision preliminary plats were approved during Dumas’ 12 years on the commission, over 6,000 residential lots.

His ouster leaves Commissioner Wade Schexnaydre as the veteran on Planning & Zoning, having first been appointed in March of 2017.  Schexnaydre served until resigning his seat in mid-2020, enjoying a 15-month hiatus until his reappointment in October, 2021.  Commissioner Varnado was appointed in 2021.

Five newly-appointed members have no Planning & Zoning experience.  Time will tell if that is a good thing.