Gonzales’ Council rejected Dempsey Pendarvis’ petition to annex 3.1 acres into the city on Monday in a 3-2 vote which left Mayor Barney Arceneaux and his predecessor, Johnny Berthelot now occupying a seat on the five-member panel, miffed. It was not Pendarvis’ first attempt to have the subject acreage, located in the southeast corner of the intersection formed by Hwy 44 and Hwy 941, annexed. Again, he failed to convince a council majority that annexation would provide any benefit to the city.
Louisiana DOTD has targeted the property for expropriation to build a roundabout with an eastward connection from Hwy 44 to Hwy 941. Pendarvis has refused DOTD’s overtures, claiming to have a commercial buyer interested in acquiring part of the property for an office building. Opponents insist that he is “lying” and only seeks to enhance the property’s value when/if DOTD acquires the property by expropriation or otherwise.
Good enough for Mayor Arceneaux and two council members, Berthelot and Kirk Boudreaux. Would DOTD ever allow any structure within that roundabout intersection?
Pendarvis’ argument included the highly doubtful claim that DOTD supported the annexation. DOTD’s Aaron Elisar, in a January 11, 2021 email reply to Chief Administrative Officer Scot Byrd, wrote:
“DOTD doesn’t have an objection to this annexation as this land parcel has been turned over to be expropriated.”
Byrd had inquired if “the Department has any objection, since this will be at the intersection of two state highways?” What he should have asked, given the administration’s stance, is whether or not DOTD would allow the building of any structure within its roundabout intersection. Byrd had earlier explained the administration’s support; because annexation would result in “economic benefit” and “jobs in the city.”
That could be the case, IF the property were annexed; then rezoned from R-15 to commercial; IF Pendarvis really has a buyer; IF DOTD would permit construction of any structure in its roundabout? That is a lot of “ifs.”
Councilman Tim Riley, attending only his second meeting, moved to delay the question “until the roundabout is built.” Advised by City Attorney Matthew Percy that his motion was procedurally defective, Riley voted “No.” He was joined in denying Pendarvis’ annexation request by Councilmen Tyler Turner and Harold Stewart.