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Gonzales fails to secure construction project

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Posted: Feb 27, 2014 3:36 PM by Russell Jones & Rob Krieger
Updated: Feb 27, 2014 6:49 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: gonzales, construction, crawford electric, council vote

GONZALES - City leaders said they're upset after Gonzales' council failed to approve a zoning ordinance for a big-money construction project.

The council voted 2-1 Wednesday night to approve the zoning change for Crawford Electric's 54,000 square foot warehouse. However, the measure still failed because a majority of the five-member council had to approve it in order to pass.

"We're talking about a company here, a 54-thousand square foot building hiring 50 new people at 90 to 100-thousand dollars a year, yes, I would like to have that in the city of Gonzales," said Mayor Barney Arceneaux.

Councilman Gary Lacombe abstained, Timothy Vessel voted against the move and Terance Irvin recused himself from the vote because it would have affected the value of his family's land.

Lacombe told News 2 he wouldn't vote for the project because he was concerned it could leave the city liable for a lawsuit over spot zoning, but Mayor Arceneaux said those concerns were hypothetical at best.

"He was all for hiring CPEX to come in here who are the experts in this field, and they told him it was not spot zoning, and that this was the perfect place to put this business," said Arceneaux.

The mayor and two council members tried to convince Lacombe to change his mind before the company left Gonzales, but to no avail.

"We spent much time with Mr. Lacombe yesterday to hit a brick wall. It's like talking to a brick wall, so I don't see communicating with him too much anymore," said Councilman Kenny Matassa.

On Thursday, Crawford Electric said they would not build their facility in Gonzales as a result of the vote, and would instead build elsewhere in Ascension Parish. Assessors said the construction would have created around $133,000 in property tax for the city each year, making it one of Gonzales' top ten property tax generators.

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