Ascension residents flood council meeting in support of proposed 1 year construction moratorium; Others see it as unfair
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Ascension Parish leaders are considering a controversial plan to address what many feel is the root of recent flooding.
Parish President Clint Cointment wants to stop all new developments until the parish has a chance to better prepare for floods.
He is proposing an ordinance that would install a 12-month moratorium on all new residential and commercial construction. “The moratorium is necessary to give parish government time to consider all the aspects of the combined impact of additional development and increased frequency of severe weather events currently being experienced in Ascension Parish,” said Cointment in his statement released Monday.
Ascension Parish residents had the chance to weigh in with their opinions on the idea at the parish council meeting on Thursday, May 20.
One resident told the council that the flooding issues in the parish did not start with the current administration. But it’s up to this administration (council and parish president), to fix these drainage problems.
“This is my porch the day before yesterday. And the water’s coming up,” said one Ascension Parish resident who spoke up at the meeting.
One by one, our neighbors in Ascension Parish flooded Thursday’s council meeting with concerns about high water going into their homes.
“When we leave here tonight, the fear of our homes flooding is not going to go away. Not just for us, but for everyone in this parish,” said another resident.
“If anyone’s not flooded, it doesn’t end the next week, it doesn’t end a month from now, it doesn’t end a year from now,” said a local woman.
Most residents are getting behind President Cointment’s new proposal which would halt residential and commercial construction for a year, so the parish can work on fixing its drainage problems.
“Just no more new construction. We have things that need tending too in drainage, and they’re not tending to it at all,” said one local woman.
“These neighborhoods are coming up too fast, and the drainage is not being planned in a proper fashion,” said another local woman.
Cointment says the timing for this ordinance, couldn’t be any more obvious.
“I was asked that question earlier. Why now? Well why not now? Because we have to do something today. I can’t stand idly by while people are flooding,” said Cointment.
It’s not that most residents are so anti-construction per-say, most just believe the parish needs some time to get their drainage issues in order first.
“Unfortunately, we are running out of land, we are running out of places where we can make a difference, where we can put things in to prevent problems in the future. It’s only getting worse, it’s not getting better,” said one local man.
“Please, just pause for just a second. Let us catch up. And then move on to bigger and better things,” said one woman.
But some folks believe a moratorium on new construction will not fix all the current issues the parish is facing.
“Just a blanket restriction is like telling a certain industry who did not cause all of the problems. There are ditches that still need to be cleaned out, that is not a developer’s fault, that is lack of maintenance,” said Brandon Ivey, Home Builders Association of Greater Baton Rouge’s board chair.
“Let’s all work towards fixing this drainage issue, but a moratorium or shutting down one industry, I feel is just completely unfair,” said Bart Waguespack, with Waguespack Homes.
“Because we need to step back, look at the big picture, look at what changes need to be made, so that Ascension grows in a responsible way,” said President Cointment.
To be clear, this ordinance does not stop construction on existing lots, only prevents the creation of more lots for 12 months.
President Cointment says the full parish council will vote on his proposal, at their meeting in Gonzales on June 17.
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