Moratorium on track, increased Transportation Impact Fees delayed to 2022

Ascension Council and President

The 12-month “moratorium on any future subdivision of property” can, apparently proceed after the Parish Council’s attorney explained the requisite parameters at the beginning of Thursday’s meeting in Donaldsonville.  Citing statutory and jurisprudential authority, Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Dupaty opined that such a moratorium must:

  • Be specific as to the goals to be reached during the moratorium;
  • Those goals must be achievable; and
  • Have a limited term.

Dupaty referenced a 6-month moratorium imposed by the City of Slidell which was extended for an additional six months when its state goals were not achieved within the term.  The Cointment proposal listed five objectives:

  1. Assessment of a potential Drainage Impact Fee
  2. Density Adjustments
  3. Address Subdivision Construction Specifications
  4. Regional Stormwater Detention
  5. Review of the fill ordinance

The moratorium was not the only subdivision development item on Thursday’s agenda.

The council amended Ascension’s Transportation Impact Fee ordinance to increase the rates of collection on a graduated scale beginning on January 1, 2020.  Currently collected at 70% of the maximum fee (35% on the west bank), the fees have generated over $10 million since codification on April 7, 2016.  In May the Council’s Transportation Committee recommended an increase to 80% but Councilman Dempsey Lambert, citing COVID-19’s adverse impact on the local economy offered a substitute motion to “leave the fee at 70% for 12 months, or until the (as yet non-existent) moratorium is lifted.”

If you are reading tea leaves that would seem to be a sign that Cointment’s moratorium will be approved, at least some version, on June 17 when the Council next meets.

Councilman Joel Robert, arguing that the lost income from maintaining the status quo for a year, recommended an amendment that the fee should be collected at 90% after 12 more months at the current rate.  Councilman Aaron Lawler offered the motion that would ultimately be enacted, once Lambert withdrew his:

  • Delay implementation of the 80% collection rate until December 31, 2021;
  • Increasing to 90% on December 31, 2022; and
  • Increasing to 100% on December 31, 2023.

In other business the Council unanimously approved an ordinance to dedicate all franchise fees generated pursuant to Ascension’s sewer treatment agreement with National Water Infrastructure to “use by the Recreation Department.”