Reversing itself, Commission recommends annexation of Pendarvis property into Gonzales

Approximately half of the subject acreage inside triangle formed by Hwys 44/941 and the roundabout east-bound connector to 941.

Gonzales Planning Commission reversed its month-old decision to recommend denial of Dempsey Pendarvis’ third, or was it a fourth, bid to have three acres annexed into the city.  A Special Meeting had been called for the purpose, CAO Scot Byrd informed that Pendarvis had “presented new information,” eliciting scoffs from neighboring property owners in attendance Wednesday.   In the southeast corner of the intersection formed by Highways 44/941, part of the tract will be utilized for construction of a roundabout by Louisiana DOTD at some point in the future.

Pendarvis claimed to have a corporate buyer interested in half the property (that which lies north of the new section of Hwy 941 added in the roundabout depicted above), not that anyone other than CAO Byrd and four Planning Commissioners believed a word of it.  The unnamed corporation is going to build an office inside the triangle described in the image above to hear Pendarvis tell the (fairy) tale.

For some reason Mayor Barney Arceneaux’s administration recommended approval of the annexation request.  For some reason the Planning Commission reversed course, two members of the shorthanded body chose to believe Pendarvis, drawing howls of derision from those opposing annexation.  Commissioner Eddie Williams voted “no” while Commissioner John Lanoux abstained and CAO Scot Byrd declared the approval, disappointing all in attendance but Pendarvis.

Pendarvis property at Hwy 941/Hwy 44 intersection (days after 2015 election for Ascension Parish President)

Those neighboring property owners concluded “politics at play.”  Neither Pendarvis nor his critics reside inside the city limits.

What changed?  What could account for a unanimous rejection of Pendarvis’ December 2019 request becoming a unanimous approval one month hence?

“We understand that Dempsey will bring a commercial project,” CAO Byrd explained the Arceneaux administration’s support.   “Which will bring jobs.”

Which would not explain why the administration supported the annexation attempt in December.

Ultimately, annexation is the decision of Gonzales’ City Council though inclusion of an ordinance scheduled for introduction at the January 11 council meeting was an ominous sign for those in opposition.  Is the fix in?

Since every annexation comes into the city with the most restrictive zoning classification (R-15), which does not allow business/commercial, it would certainly seem so.  Approval of the annexation was predicated upon Pendarvis’ promise of an office building, which cannot be built unless the acreage is rezoned.  Implicit in Wednesday’s decision is that the property will be rezoned…or what would be the point of annexation?

Consensus among the neighboring residents was the belief that Pendarvis wants commercial zoning to enhance the purchase price from DOTD, the state agency needing same for its roundabout.  According to multiple of those neighbors, DOTD has settled on a price with all other affected property owners.