This morning we posed a series of questions to Councilman Aaron Lawler and three of his colleagues who sponsored a discussion during Monday’s EA Drainage meeting about:
f. Discussion of requiring all municipalities on the Eastbank to have development drainage standards that are at least equal to Parish standards under possibility of cessation of drainage work in municipalities that do not have such standard (Vice-Chairman Aaron Lawler, Commissioners Terri Casso, John Cagnolotti, Corey Orgeron).
g. Resolution asking Eastbank municipalities to refuse annexation of any property that will be developed at drainage standards lower than the standards accepted by Ascension Parish? (Vice Chairman Aaron Lawler, Commissioners Terri Casso, John Cagnolotti, Corey Orgeron).
The questions, with Councilman Lawler’s responses, can be read below. If you would care to judge Lawler’s veracity for yourself, consider his replies in combination with the publicly available YouTube video of Monday’s meeting available on Parish of Ascension’s Facebook page. Our conclusions can be discerned in…
Q: Why were the east bank municipalities not contacted prior to placing these items on Monday night’s agenda?
A. That is incorrect. Contrary to this initial statements to the council, Mayor Chris Guidry of Sorrento was advised of this and the reasoning behind it prior to it being put on the agenda.
Q. Have discussions with those affected municipalities occurred? If not, why not?
A. Yes and they are ongoing. I am also hopeful that the administration takes the lead in this, as drainage is a very important issue.
Q. Was President Cointment’s administration included in any discussion of the agenda items prior to the meeting?
A. Yes. President Cointment and Chairman Chase Melancon were notified on April 29. Chairman Melancon not only responded, but also communicated with Mayor Chris Guidry about it. Neither Chris Guidry nor Clint Cointment contacted me prior to the meeting.
Q. Do you intend to pursue the proposed measures to conclusion at future EA Drainage meetings?
A. Not sure what is meant by the vague term “proposed measure”. But one thing learned during the meeting occurred when Mayor Guidry claimed his drainage policies were stronger than the parish, but then stated that the wetlands preservation laws of Sorrento only followed state/federal law. I believe I’m correct in stating that this means that in Sorrento a developer may destroy 100% of the wetlands as long as mitigation is done, likely outside the parish. I’d say the parish is stronger. It was also interesting to note that the mayor spoke of limitations of development to one unit per acre…recalling the moratorium discussion, the same Councilman that stated he was trying to evade drainage development rules also wanted an exception to the moratorium for developments that allowed one unit per acre. Serving oneself or the public?
Q: Feel free to explain your position(s) in as much detail as deemed appropriate.
A. The blogger asking these questions has typically misled the public by omission and twisting of language, both of which are it the detriment of the parish. This is not unexpected from a person that has stated that his goal it to be an agent of chaos (likely lifted from a Batman movie).
The first omission and the real issue here is that a sitting Councilman (technically, I’d say he is the only developer on the council) boldly stated his intent to avoid more stringent wetlands preservation laws set forth by the parish (after working to weaken the wetlands preservation laws during the meeting) by having his property annexed into Sorrento. The idea that anyone, much less a sitting councilman, would use a loophole to avoid our drainage standards is not good and should be fixed. If this had been said by a different councilman, one whose family that does not pay you thousands in “advertising”, I’m sure your article would have been completely different. An article could have been written about how to close this loophole. We’ll, I don’t write articles, but I do get things done and that sometimes requires a public discussion, which is exactly what we had.
Transparency! It’s not just a slogan. So we had a public DISCUSSION about solutions to this issue. Did turn agenda item use the word cessation, yes. Attention needed to be grabbed due to the gravity of the situation. Drainage is serious business and these loopholes are no good for anyone in the parish, except for maybe developers. So the word cessation grabbed attention and a response. It was the stick. And anyone that knows the history of raising the drinking age from 18 to 21 in Louisiana will understand the stick.
So here we are. My goal is to have uniformly beneficial drainage development policies through the east bank of AP. Plus we may learn they Gonzales or Sorrento have some standards that we should adopt. But we may also learn that they have standards, such as wetlands preservation they don’t meet the AP requirement to preserve at least 60% of wetlands and should be brought up to that level of protection. We all seem to agree that wetland preservation is generally good for drainage and our environment.
In even simpler terms, let’s view drainage in AP as a pipe. AP’s pipe is 18 inches in diameter. I want to make sure they when that pipe passes through another municipality, they don’t shrink that pipe to 12 inches and harm our drainage.
Hopefully the Parish President will direct his reports to make sure the municipality’s drainage requirements are equal to or better then ours and if they are not, identify improvements that can be made.
As for the resolution. That was simply an expression of non support for any annexations that would worsen drainage in the parish.
Councilman Aaron J. Lawler-District 7