The photos above probably seem self-explanatory to you, and a pretty compelling argument that Ascension’s 18′ roadways pose a dangerous condition for busloads of kids competing for space. But you are not a member of the Ascension Parish Council’s Strategic Planning Committee where a second attempt to require 20′ roadways for any proposed residential subdivision ingress/egress failed during Monday’s video conference meeting.
NOTE: The proposed legislation was presented at the June 11 Strategic Planning meeting, but without the slide show.
For comparison’s sake…
Committee Chairman Chase Melancon, with an assist from Fire Chief James LeBlanc and AP Schools Chief Operations Director Chad Lynch, thought he had come up with an argument-proof visual aid to push common sense legislation through his committee. Melancon proposed to amend Section 17-4032(1)(a) of the parish’s Subdivision Regulations, increasing by two feet the minimum road width. It currently reads…
No major or minor subdivision may be developed on any street which is less than 18’ in pavement width.
The first-term District 6 councilman has a lot to learn about Ascension Council machinations. For a second time, in stepped first-term District 4 Councilman, and erstwhile candidate for School Board, Corey Orgeron (far more advanced in petty, partisan politics than other rookie members). Orgeron, who poses as a practicing attorney, interjected:
“Have we gone to any of these engineering firms that we retained, these traffic engineering experts, and gotten them to provide us any paperwork; anything that we can justify making this move? Analysis…for litigation purposes so that we’re hanging our hats on something solid?
While the Bar Exam is a minimal competency test, it weeds out the real dullards. Thus, we would have assumed Orgeron aware of the “legislative immunity” and its vast protections against litigation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures; “Legislative immunity confers a privilege on legislators from inquiry into their legislative acts or into the motivation for actual performance of legislative acts that are clearly part of the legislative process.”
Plant workers have always made better Ascension Parish Councilmen than lawyers. We digress.
“I don’t feel that we need an engineer to tell us that 18′ is unsafe,” countered Councilman Melancon.
Ascension, if the Engineering Review Agent (Shaun Sherrow) is included, is paying over $600,000 to engineers, one of whom could have weighed in on the question; which is preferable for a road that includes a subdivision entrance/exit, 18 or 20 feet? Orgeron would have had to come up with some other nonsensical counter-argument.
Chairman Melancon’s presentation included feedback from a dozen school bus drivers, emergency vehicle specifications demonstrating the need for added width, and those images above. He also offered compromise and the willingness to consider alternative solutions to meet the requirements of a more stringent Section 17-4032. Among them were building up shoulders by adding asphalt on roads with sufficient area.
Councilman Joel Robert made a motion to forward the proposed legislation to the full council. It failed for lack of a second as Orgeron and Councilman John Cagnolatti sat silent. Councilman Dempsey Lambert did not participate in the video conference meeting.
Another two agenda items aimed at curing perceived defects in Ascension’s Unified Land Development Code rounded out the agenda. (All agenda items were first proposed by Ascension’s Planning Commission/Planning Department). None could get a second from the Orgeron-Cagnolatti cabal.