St. Gabriel residents question why land could be rezoned

Rezoning in St. Gabriel on hold

ST. GABRIEL, LA (WAFB) - A rezoning issue in Iberville Parish has prompted a lot of questions from neighbors in the City of St. Gabriel.

Many of those who live in and around the area were planning to attend a meeting Wednesday night with the planning and zoning office, but the meeting was canceled because the committee did not have quorum with only three members of the board present.

The issue is over why some land owners want their residential property changed to heavy industrial.

"No one has said that's a positive thing," Rachel Ozan said.

Ozan says for weeks, she has heard something was going on with the property located between Nicholson Drive and River Road. The land, which totals about 3,000 acres, is right next to her home.

Weeks ago, Ozan says she noticed a sign a public notice sign on the property. It states that as of September 15, 2015, the land owner, Barbara Mayeux, had filed an application for rezoning.

St. Gabriel Mayor Lionel Johnson says right now, the land is zoned for residential.

"The land owners are asking for us to rezone to M2, which is heavy industrial," said Mayor Johnson.

He says there are a lot of people who have assumed that means another plant could move in, to an area where there are already 11 others.

"More pollution," said Ozan. She says she has asked what else heavy industrial could mean but the details are hard to come by.

She says one reason her family moved on River Road, was because the house is far enough away from other plants. She says recently the City of St. Gabriel started investing in beautification. Paving a walkway on the levee and building a new playground down the road.

If something big does come, she says she would have to move.

Ozan says a lot of her neighbors are worried. Not only will they be living next door to whatever could come, it would also be in her backyard and add to the traffic volume that passes in front of her house.

"Right now, the only question is the question of rezoning 3,000 acres," said the mayor. "Not a question of whether a plant will come."

Following public comment, the planning and zoning commission was set to make a recommendation to the city council. Council members would then choose whether to accept that recommendation or reject it.

Without that recommendation, the city council will not vote on the rezoning at their meeting Thursday.

Johnson says they could choose to have staggered zoning. Something Ozan says neighbors have asked about.

"It can be broken up. It doesn't all have to be industrial and we'd like them to consider that. It could be rezoned another way."

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