Gonzales Council approves zoning change that will bring in $5 million electrical facility

GONZALES, LA (AP) - The Gonzales City Council approved a measure Monday evening to amend a zoning change in the city's current master plan and open the door for the company Crawford Electric to develop a $5 million facility.

The plant will be located near the intersection of Highway 44 and Highway 30 and bring in an estimated 50 new jobs. The meeting was standing room only and the public hearing began with resident Tyrone Smith speaking out against the zoning change.

"Stop doing business just because that is the way we have always done it," said Smith.

Smith's comments were followed by overwhelming support for the change including from former Gonzales Police Chief Bill Landry and Crawford Electric Branch Manager Damain Kerek.

"I have a proven track record of hiring local people and advancing local people," said Kerek. "We're blessed to have these opportunities. Great clean jobs."

"It's time you folks stop being politicians and be public officials for the people you serve and represent," added Landry.

Three of the five council members spoke out against changing the zoning codes including Terance Irvin, Timothy Vessel and Gary Lacombe. Lacombe said he believes in bringing jobs to the city but not by using spot zoning.

"This thing has gotten into a referendum on whether we support jobs or not and that is not it at all. I'm trying to be true to the zoning rights," said Lacombe.

"We need to think about tabling this thing and get the proper procedure and proper things for the people of Gonzales instead of jumping into hot water," added Vessel.

The measure passed by a 2-1 vote with Lacombe abstaining and Irwin removing himself from the roll call.

Kerek said he is hopeful construction on the new facility will begin within three months with 50 new employees to be hired by sometime in 2015.

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