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Land fight

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GONZALES - City leaders cannot agree on rezoning a vacant piece of land that could become a giant warehouse and the mayor worries it means the city will lose out on new jobs.

Crawford Electrical Supply Co. wants to build its multimillion dollar, 54,000 square-foot facility on Highway 44 east of I-10.  But, the plot is zoned as retail and would need to be rezoned by city leaders.

Not everyone on the city council is approving the rezoning request.

"It really blows my mind," Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux said.

This week, Councilmen Gary Lacombe and Timothy Vessel voted against the rezoning.

The Gonzales Chamber of Commerce, Planning and Zoning and the Tax Assessor all gave the rezoning the green light.

Vessel voted against the rezoning because there are other plots of land Crawford could build on in the city, he said and wants to keep the property for future retailers.  He said, he's "willing to protect [ retail property] for future growth of the city."

The mayor said that's bizarre.

"I've not been approached about retail in that area at all," Arceneaux said.

The mayor wants Crawford at that spot because he believes stores would not work at the site since the property is next to the sewage plant and other industrial businesses.

"We have always been very friendly to new businesses. [The city has] bent over backwards to get them in our community except now," Councilman Kenny Matassa said. "They are sending out a sign that Gonzales is closed for business."

Matassa and councilman Kirk Boudreaux voted in favor of the rezoning.

Councilman Terance Irvin took himself out of the vote because his father owns property near the land.

Crawford already has plans to build at a location outside of the city if the rezoning does not pass, said Arceneaux.

The final vote is February 24th.

Lacombe could not be reached for comment.


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