Pro-Development council returns Pryor and Firmin to Planning/Zoning Commission

Planning Commission Chairman Matthew Pryor

On Thursday the Parish Council definitively declared its preference for unfettered, barely restricted residential subdivision development.  In a 7-2 vote the governing authority reappointed current chairman, Matthew Pryor to the Planning & Zoning Commission, a seat he has occupied since July 9, 2014.  Ken Firmin, a commissioner since April 12, 2017 was a unanimous selection along with Michael Todd Varnado who finished eight out of eight aspirants when the Council Personnel Committee first ranked applicants on February 22.

Thursday’s vote to appoint Pryor:

The YEAs

Chairwoman Teri Casso

The NAYs


NOTE: Councilman Chase Melancon arrived at Donaldsonville’s Historic Courthouse after the vote had been conducted.

The vote bodes ill for opponents of the twice denied subdivision plat formerly called Antebellum Pointe (rebranded Delaune Estates).  Tentatively scheduled for Executive Session on April 15, the council will decide whether or not to approve the plat in settlement of pending litigation.  Absent on Thursday, District 4’s Councilman Corey Orgeron has vigorously advocated for approval of the plat going on a year now, oblivious to constituents most directly affected by the proposed subdivision which lies within the district.

Pryor’s reappointment is not unexpected because the council is, and always has been pro-development.  Pryor has delivered, casting a single vote to deny any residential subdivision preliminary plat since being seated.  There have been 56 such plats to come before the commission since Pryor’s swearing in 68 months ago, and 4308 individual lots approved for development since that time.

Neither is the other incumbent commissioner, Ken Firmin’s reappointment surprising.  A third applicant for reappointment, Richard Carmouche had no chance after opposing every subdivision plat during his five month tenure (the briefest in Planning & Zoning’s 26-year history).  Perplexing, though, is the appointment of Michael Varnado who was ranked dead last among eight applicants when the Personnel Committee conducted interviews on February 22.

What changed since the nascent commissioner’s last place ranking on February 22?

Absolutely nothing.  The Personnel Committee is, and always has been, a SHAM! adjunct of a council devoted to development and developers which predetermines and pre-selects its favored Planning Commissioners.  Why is Personnel the only committee that does not televise its meetings?

In other Personnel business, three vacant spots on the Animal Services Board were filled on Thursday, all by acclimation.  The new members:

  • J. Darin Shaw
  • Valerie Hoffman
  • Lisa Lavigne