Councilman raises conflict of interest questions
GONZALES- After a trio of councilmen forced changes to the city's budget to fund an $800,000 road study, some questions are being raised as to whether or not Terance Irvin has a conflict of interest in the vote.
The study would look at a possible service road connecting LA 44 and LA 30 near I-10. Irvin's father, Melvin Irvin, Jr., owns at least three plots of land in that area.
"I see it opening up that area for economic development purposes, and also relieving the traffic congestion on Highway 30," said Irvin.
"It could generate interstate frontage, which could increase the value of the property, it's not a full-proof plan to say that a road is going to allow property to be developed and then increase the value immediately," said Justin Champlin, with the Ascension Assessor's Office.
Irvin recused himself from a zoning vote earlier this year, because it affected land near his father's property, but did not do the same when voting to move city money to the road study.
"I think it could very well be a conflict of interest, I haven't seen any legal documents, but he abstained one time and didn't abstain the other, I don't understand that," said Councilman Kenny Matassa.
Matassa is upset because in order to fund the project, public safety budget items had to be slashed.
Irvin maintains that his family is liquidating land in that area and he's not sure if it would be a conflict of interest.
"We don't really know if the service road would be connected to that property or not, because the study hasn't been done and so until those opportunities come about meaning the preliminary study and the distance of the road, and so forth, I really won't know and I really can't respond to that question," said Irvin.