One week ago President Clint Cointment introduced an ordinance envisioning “a twelve month moratorium on any future subdivision of property” to Ascension’s Parish Council. To enact the requisite ordinance requires an eight-vote (out of 11 members) supermajority. As with any idea of Cointment’s, an obstructionist contingent on the council will resist due to the source, a fact made perfectly clear by the comments by three members.
One of the anti-Cointment council faction, Corey Orgeron expressed tepid support in a rant delusional enough to merit its own free-standing article (see link below). Orgeron would be joined at Thursday’s meeting of EA Drainage by two perceived fence-sitters, Councilmen Aaron Lawler and Dal Waguespack.
How will the Ascension’s Council receive President Clint Cointment’s proposed 12-month moratorium? Are eights votes available to impose the subdivision ban for an entire year? A week from today marks the Council’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting in Donaldsonville where, according to multiple sources, the Council will “discussion” the moratorium and consider amendments to the Cointment version.
The president’s moratorium is intended to afford time to consider and implement (or not) five objectives, the 12 months time frame:
- Assessment of a potential Drainage Impact Fee
- Density Adjustments
- Address Subdivision Construction Specifications
- Regional Stormwater Detention
- Review of the fill ordinance
Most of the council held its water when the ordinance was introduced last week. Joel Robert expressed unequivocal support while Lawler and Waguespack were more circumspect.
Lawler “heard some really cool things” in the Cointment proposal, but…
“All these projects…were decades; ten, eight years in the making,” said the parish president’s most ardent nemesis. “This is not going to be a quick fix. You’re not going to see a moratorium come in and, at the end of it, ‘oh, we’re doing all these projects. It doesn’t happen like that.”
In fact, none of the five moratorium justifications are specific projects. Four of them envision possible amendments to the parish’s Unified Land Development Code while No. 4 above denotes Cointment’s intention to assess the viability and benefits of Regional Stormwater Detention. We would have assumed that Lawler, one of three attorneys on the council, understands the legalities and processes of any moratorium (but maybe not).
“If we sit here…for 12 months and don’t get a thing out of it, not a single solution, then we have wasted our time,” the Prairieville councilman continued. “The key is; how are we going to fix these things?
Lawler asserted that “we’d still have drainage problems, we’d still have traffic problems” even had “no subdivision been approved over the last five years.” Coincidentally (?), that time frame corresponds with his tenure as District 7’s Council representative during which time 27 residential subdivisions have been approved. Six of those preliminary plats were approved inside his district:
- Reese Lane
- Oak Grove Townhouses
- Jamestown Crossing-1
- Jamestown Crossing-2
All told it comes to 462 lots approved during Lawler’s council tenure.
He recommended adding revised Drainage Impact Studies to Cointment’s list of five. Since the moratorium can only be enacted via ordinance, nothing prevents Lawler from making that motion. Too bad he didn’t think of it before engineering the Oak Grove Townhouses preliminary plat approval in 2018.
Instead Lawler negotiated a deal with the developer which agreed to escrow $100,000 “for the sole purpose of adjusting the height of the weir and provide other drainage related improvements under the control of Willow Lake subdivision….
“The escrow account must be available for a period not exceed 24 months from the date the final plat is executed and recorded. In the event Willow Lake fail(s) to complete the lowering of the weir within those 24 months the developer may close the escrow account and recoup his funds, and shall be relieved of any further obligation.“
Ask any resident of Willow Lake how that deal worked out.
Lawler went on to advocate for wider canals and waterways, dredging deeper channels…the importance of which former DPW Director Bill Roux explained to him (presumably prior to Roux’s retirement in late 2017).
“We need to start working on that now,” Lawler declared without explaining his inaction for the last five years, and five months.
Ultimately, he did indicate support for the moratorium which was more of a commitment than his District 9 colleague was willing to make.
“I don’t know where I’m at,” said Councilman Dal Waguespack. “Have we done what we could have done in the past 17 months” to alleviate recent flooding?”
He didn’t provide an answer to that question either.
“We cannot plan for flashfloods,” a more assertive Waguespack related findings from a recent visit to the City of Houston where $3 billion is available annually to address drainage. “You can’t afford to design a system capable of handling 14″ of rain in three or four hours.”
Are there eight votes to approve the moratorium?