ASCENSION PARISH, La. (WAFB) - There are lots of people in Ascension Parish talking about Parish President Clint Cointment vetoing a decision by the parish council to approve a new subdivision just west of LA 73 in Prairieville.
The Ascension Parish Planning Commission and Council actually denied the plans for the Delaune Estates (formerly Antebellum Pointe) subdivision just last year.
But the developers sued and last week, the council voted to allow construction to go forward with a vote of 6-5, as part of a settlement in that lawsuit.
And now, some council members are getting a lot of heat for their votes.
Cointment almost immediately reversed the decision in a letter, which states, “I do not take the veto power lightly and I will not exercise it unless necessary to ensure the public interest. This is one of those instances.”
“They (Delaune Estates developers) were offering a settlement for the lawsuit that they had filed in district court,” said Ascension Parish Councilman Chase Melancon, who represents District 6. “And their settlement agreement was, ‘We have a new traffic impact study. We believe it meets all the criteria. So, we’re asking the council to settle the lawsuit by granting us approval.’ And that’s what the council did.”
Plans for new subdivisions bring up old concerns for a lot of people in Ascension Parish that the parish just isn’t ready, with the infrastructure, to meet the demand that comes with growth, like traffic and drainage.
“And I wouldn’t say no new subdivisions. I don’t want that. Because you don’t want to stop commerce, you don’t want to stop growth. I do think we need to do it responsibly,” Melancon added.
The Delaune family is also very well known in Ascension Parish. But the decision of each council member on the vote has been scrutinized.
Ascension Parish Council Chairwoman Teri Casso said she did not feel comfortable speaking about her vote on camera and that lots of other council members feel the exact same way because of threats and harassment that they’ve received in their own communities for their votes.
“And I mean, it’s just ridiculous,” said Casso in a phone interview. “It’s beneath the good people of Ascension Parish. I’m embarrassed by it and quite frankly, I’m frustrated and quite frankly, somewhat angry.”
Casso said she voted, ‘Yes,’ on the issue because it all comes down to the developers’ legal rights to actually build the subdivision. She added the developers did the required work, including a new traffic study.
“So, you know, for me, that puts us turning that (subdivision) down, when it meets our guidelines, puts us in legal jeopardy. Is that a perfect decision? I don’t know? No one will know until an esteemed judge, you know, maybe 12-18 months from now, pounds his gavel and says, ‘Yay or nay,’” Casso explained.
To override President Cointment’s veto, eight council members would have to vote against it at their meeting on Thursday, April 22. Councilwoman Casso said the chances are slim that it happens.
WAFB reached out to President Cointment’s office for a comment but did not hear back by news time.
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