Ascension council gets judge's OK to vote on sewer deal, sets vote for January
GONZALES - The Ascension Parish council decided in a rare Friday evening special meeting to wait until late January to vote on a controversial sewer consolidation.
The meeting began about a half-hour after a judge denied a group of requests from citizens asking that the court stop the council from voting on the 30-year, $215 million deal with Ascension Sewer, LLC.
The consolidation would increase user costs and incoming Parish President Clint Cointment had some concerns about the structure of the agreement.
A state court judge on Monday had issued a restraining order that halted the planned vote. Sean Dardeau, an Ascension Parish resident, claimed the council had not properly notified the public of a hearing on the sewer plan that was to be considered by the council at a special meeting that evening.
On Thursday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision. Within hours, the council set Friday's special meeting for 6 p.m.
Dardeau again asked the state court for a restraining order and was joined by three other residents who filed the same request.
The state court hearing in those cases began at 2 p.m. Friday. It ended at 5:40 p.m.with the judge refusing to stop the council's vote.
The council, which meets in the courthouse, drew more than 100 people and dozens addressed council members during the meeting.
After a motion to approve the contract failed, the council voted to take up the agreement again on Jan. 23 and to hold an open house for residents before that meeting.