Residents support only one option for Windermere Crossing…don’t build it

50 neighboring residents braved the elements on Monday to voice their concerns and frustrations that Windermere Crossing, a 103-lot subdivision, will be constructed in the northwest corner of the intersection of Roddy and Cannon Roads.  The meeting, at St. Mark’s Church Activity Center, included Ascension’s Planning Director and Chief Administrative Officer, along with three members of the Parish Council.  Two options, neither of which would undo the January 13 preliminary plat approval, failed to garner any public support at all.

The lesser of two evils is still evil.

The preliminary plat submitted by Dantin Bruce Development, LLC included one ingress/egress point from Roddy Road with right-in, right-out turning.  The configuration is intended to avoid adverse impact at Roddy’s intersection with Black Bayou Road to the north.  Funneling traffic south would overburden Cannon Road, one of the parish’s narrowest, according to dissenting members of the Planning Commission in January.

The solution…

Dotted red-line depicts Cannon Road where developer is obligated to increase width to 18′

add a second entrance point onto Cannon Road.  Since Cannon is less than the requisite 18′ in width, the commission made approval contingent on widening it from O’Neal Road (see dotted red-line in image above) to Roddy Road.  How that is supposed to mitigate impact to Cannon is anyone’s guess.

Ascension’s Land Development Code 17-4032 Street Requirements:

A. The Commission shall apply the following rules in evaluation of subdivision applications:
1. Density Restrictions
a. No major or minor subdivision may be developed on any street which is less than 18’ in pavement width.

Several of Monday’s meeting participants vociferously argued that Cannon, even with the widening from O’Neal to Roddy, does not meet the code’s requirement.  But that issue was settled when four planning commissioners interpreted it differently on January 13.

Windermere Crossing subdivision approved by Planning Commission

Perplexed and frustrated, they turned on the Planning Director and three council members (their own representatives, Dal Waguespack and John Cagnolatti, were joined by that glutton for punishment, District 6 Councilman Chase Melancon).  Try as they might, those constituents would not be pacified by anything short of scrapping the development.

Meeting attendees were not the only ones made unhappy by January’s decision.  Dantin Bruce Development does not want to build Windermere Crossing’s Roddy Road entrance and, unused to being disappointed by the Planning Commission, has made a new proposal.  To eliminate that Roddy entrance, they are willing to extend the widening of Cannon from Roddy westward to Hwy 44.

Windermere Crossing’s widening of Cannon from Roddy to Hwy 44

And the widening would be 20′ (two 9′ lanes with 1′ rumble strips on either side) according to Planning Director Fournier.  The administration, trying to improve Cannon all the way east to Hwy 431 as part of its Move Ascension project, would like to see Cannon extended further west with a connection to Airline Hwy, ultimately.

None of which appeased Monday’s gathering the least little bit.

Nothing short of undoing Windermere Crossing’s preliminary plat approval will accomplish that; the fact that Dantin Bruce is willing to pony up $750,000 toward Cannon’s widening did not move the needle at all.  The developer’s willingness to undertake the job is not a product of generosity.  Dantin Bruce wants to avoid purchasing property along Roddy to accommodate the entrance indicated on the preliminary plat (and the property owner is attempting to gouge them).

The Dantin Bruce offer is considered a Major Change necessitating Planning Commission approval.

According to Fournier the parish already owns necessary right-of-way to widen Cannon, a comment that elicited derisive howls from certain residents all-too-accustomed to navigating the narrow roadway.  Open ditches on either side, or at least one, will have to be moved and multiple residents wondered how many trees would have to be uprooted.

Numerous other criticisms were voiced:

  • Nobody not drawing a salary from Ascension Parish believed the conclusions of the Traffic Impact Study presented in January.
  • Why can’t the Parish Council overrule the Planning Commission?
  • Adverse impact on localized drainage, in addition to traffic concerns, were raised.

NOTE: There was a consensus in favor of a moratorium on subdivision development.  Coincidentally(?), Parish President Clint Cointment proposed one on Tuesday.

“There’s a bunch of ordinances that need to be addressed,” Councilman Melancon explained why the council’s hands were tied.  “This is going to happen.”

Either the deal gets done to eliminate the Roddy Road entrance in return for Dantin Bruce’s $750,000 expenditure to lengthen Cannon’s widening to Hwy 44…or they construct Windermere Crossing in accordance with the January 13 approval.

A few of the more attentive residents pounced on Melancon’s reply.  The Council, after all, is the body responsible for adopting ordinances.  To be fair, Melancon pushed for corrective ordinances last year…

Orgeron/Cagnolatti (Lambert a no show) reject school bus safety measure AGAIN

which could not make it out of the Strategic Planning Committee he chaired in 2020.

As to the Council assuming the responsibility to approve/deny subdivision plats, that issue has been resolved by an opinion from Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office.  And neighboring parish councils already do it.

Livingston Parish Council approves/denies subdivisions (but Parenton says Ascension CANNOT)

That’s a matter of Parish Council will, which has been non-existent in the past.  It would require an amendment to Ascension’s Home Rule Charter which can only be done at the ballot box.  To place such an item before Ascension voters would require an 8-vote council supermajority or nearly 28,000 signatures on a petition.