Livingston Parish president vetoes year-long development moratorium; council planning response
LIVINGSTON - Livingston Parish President Layton Ricks has vetoed a 12-month moratorium on residential developments that aimed to slow down the parish's rapid growth amid concerns over flooding and infrastructure.
"We have it in our power to do this and all we've been doing is making excuses saying we can't do it this way we can't do it that way, well we can do it all those ways to help the developer but we can't do it in any way to help the citizens and that's not fair," District 8 Councilman Randy Delatte said Monday.
Ricks vetoed the measure, which had been approved by the parish council on July 27 with a 5-4 vote. The moratorium targeted subdivisions with more than 50 lots — or covering more than 100 acres — as well as multi-family developments.
Councilmembers have already taken steps to counter Ricks' veto, paving the way to discuss a revised moratorium at the upcoming council meeting.
"I feel that Layton Ricks is more committed to his developer friends than the citizens of Livingston Parish. Why is he fighting so hard for these developments five months before he leaves office? In my district alone we have roughly between 5,000 to 6,000 homes specced to come through already. We can't take it," District 5 Councilwoman Erin Sandefur said.
Other councilmembers like Jeff Ard say these long moratoriums do nothing except hurt the new members who will take over in five months.
"If I was a new councilmember I wouldn't want to walk into something that I could get sued over just because I won an election," Ard said.
That's why he supported the veto and supports committing to the construction that has already started in the parish.
"There's a lot of people that have invested a lot of money and they're at the point where they're ready to get construction plans stamped and the way this thing was written they could have to start all over and lose all of that money," he said.
In his veto statement, Ricks said that he understood and supported "the Council's desire to create time for proper study, discussion and research on zoning and planning laws," but that he could not support the moratorium as it was presented.
"Mainly, my concern is that the Parish could be inviting yet another legal challenge for violating the Fair Housing Act," he wrote, adding that "the courts have well-established boundaries regarding the Fair Housing Act, and I believe this Council crossed those lines with the current moratorium."
Ricks said he would support a measure to address growth concerns "if it is accomplished fairly and equitably for everyone impacted."
Read the full letter here.