GONZALES, LA (WAFB) - With Ascension Parish continuing to grow without slowing down, the city of Gonzales is trying to keep up as city leaders broke ground on a new development.
Simply known as "Conway," the $325 million project will have 900 homes, along with some retail stores.
Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said plans started being developed about a year ago.
"We sit down, we start talking about zoning, et cetera, et cetera, and the next thing you know, here we are, fixing to do a groundbreaking," Arceneaux said.
The project is part of the effort to accommodate a rapidly-growing population in Ascension Parish. According to census data, the parish grew by over 30,000 people from 2003 to 2013. It's one of the fastest growths in Louisiana. So, why is Ascension Parish so popular?
Developers said that the schools are held in high regard. It's also conveniently located between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
However, one Ascension Parish council member said that growth also has a downside. Daniel Satterlee said it's hard for the parish to keep up with sewage and road costs.
In April, the council passed new road taxes for residents in new developments, called impact fees.
"You get the people coming to pay their fair share as opposed to the people here having to pay for the impact of the people coming," Satterlee said.
Satterlee also supports a moratorium on new subdivisions, meaning that none can be built for a period of six months. That proposal was tabled by the council when the impact fees were approved.
Satterlee said the fees are only a band-aid for the population problem.
"The infrastructure cannot keep up," Satterlee said. "The school system, our roads, our draining, our sewer, our animal control, mosquito control, everything."
Developers do not know when the "Conway" Project will be fully completed, but they expect infrastructure to be finished by the end of 2017.