Sorrento’s Town Council enacted a “Moratorium on Major and Minor subdivisions” for six months on Tuesday. The measure was taken as consultant (and former Ascension Parish Planning Director) Ricky Compton updates the town’s Planning and Zoning codes.
Not exactly a development hotbed, antiquated zoning laws have not been on the Council’s front burner. That may be changing as a buyer emerged to scoop up acreage supposed to house Orange Grove subdivision at bargain basement prices.
“It’s well before my time but we’ve been informed the vacant land intended for that subdivision has been, or will soon be, purchased,” said Councilman Donald Schexnaydre. “Whatever deal the town worked out a decade ago fell through and we have to protect the Town of Sorrento’s interests.”
Renaissance Orange Grove LLC had agreed to pay $150,000 to Sorrento which annexed the property in the mid-2000’s. The developer, owned by Paul Gerwin of Santa Fe, NM, reneged on the final $100,000 that was supposed to offset anticipated burdens on fire and police protection. Proposed as a 349-home, 134-acre subdivision, Orange Grove had sold only 35 lots as of 2011 when defaulting on its obligation.
Sorrento’s Police Department has since been abolished.
“We are a small community and such a large development could overwhelm our precarious infrastructure if we aren’t careful,” Schexnaydre explained his vote. “We’ve been fortunate enough to have Mr. Compton’s services and we anticipate recommendations in a few months.”
Town Attorney Matthew Percy suggested the moratorium as a preventative measure. Suggested revisions to the zoning code are ongoing; changes to zoning maps will be undertaken next week according to Ricky Compton.