ST. GABRIEL - A planning and zoning meeting scheduled for Wednesday night was canceled because there weren't enough board members in attendance.
While there weren't enough officials, there were well over 100 Iberville and East Baton Rouge Parish residents ready to voice their opinions about a proposed land rezoning item. A landowner in Iberville Parish has filed an application to rezone nearly 2,000 acres of land now used primarily for agriculture. The landowner is asking to change the property from residential to heavy industrial. The land, located between River Road and La. 30, has the attention of people who don't want to see it turning into a site for industrial use.
Wednesday, their voices went unheard after St. Gabriel Public Services Officer Lloyd Snowten closed the meeting, saying there were only two planning and zoning members able to make it.
General Russel Honoré, who lives in University Club, a neighborhood across the street from the acreage, met with members of the community prior to the meeting and urged residents to ask for a 60-day extension. Following the meeting, he told WBRZ News 2, the evening's actions were an "attempt to suppress a democracy" and seemed "suspicious."
At future meetings, Snowten says only 112 people would be allowed inside the council chambers and people should be able to provide a valid ID showing they reside in Iberville Parish.
St. Gabriel Council meets Thursday evening and the rezoning item remains on the agenda. Residents are asking that the meeting be held in a larger facility.
"I have suggested in the meeting that they change the venue so they can accommodate as many people that wish to attend," said concerned Iberville Parish resident Tyrone Williams.
Many residents wanted to speak about public safety, public health and quality of life in St. Gabriel and surrounding areas.
"I think it's a public meeting and I think the city should make provisions for a large turnout," said Iberville Parish resident Steven Redmann.
The St. Gabriel City Council is set to discuss the matter at its meeting Thursday night at 6 p.m.
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