DONALDSONVILLE - The Ascension Parish Planning and Zoning Commission will meet Wednesday night to discuss recent developments in the battle over the commission’s ability to deny subdivision development in the parish.
The commission just received documentation from the Attorney General’s Office that represents an evaluation of how much discretion the commission has when it comes to denying plats in Ascension Parish.
Attorney General Jeff Landry’s response comes after a request was issued by the parish’s attorney, O’Neil Parenton, seeking an opinion from the State Attorney General regarding what and how much discretion the parish planning and zoning committee really had.
The opinion of the Attorney General states that though the zoning committee is granted “legislative discretion” in approving or denying developments, this power is greatly restricted by the courts of Louisiana. Any attempt at denying development in parishes is subject to “strict scrutiny” review. Numerous court cases covering similar cases where judicial review were required.
“We have listened to all of those individuals, and heard their complaints, but, as I have said before, we are bound by the law. If a development does not meet the standards imposed by law, we should not approve it. If however, a development has met the legal standards, it is presumptively valid and we must, absence extraordinary circumstances, approve it,” came the response from the Zoning Commission.
The commission says they want the voices of residents and landowners to be heard, while allowing development to coexist with the “peaceful and rural” lifestyle that has been the goal in Ascension for many years. Property owners near proposed subdivisions have also voiced concerns about property values, traffic and drainage.
Ascension Parish has previously adopted subdivision regulations set forth in the Ascension Parish Unified Land Development Code which states, “Land use is subject to the police power of various governing bodies, and the courts will not interfere with the decisions of these bodies unless it is clear that their action is without any relation to the public health, safety or general welfare.”
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