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Proposed moratorium in Ascension an 'emotional response,' home builders association says
ASCENSION PARISH - Exactly two weeks after Ascension Parish president Clint Cointment proposed a 12-month development moratorium following the latest bout of widespread flooding, the debate over the proposal is heating up.
Brandon Ivey, chairman of the Home Builders Association of Greater Baton Rouge, says Cointment's proposition isn't an 'actual solution' and is an 'emotional response' to flooding issues and concerns.
Ivey, a homebuilder in Baton Rouge, says the focus should be on improving and maintaining existing drainage infrastructure.
"I was just in Ascension Parish yesterday, and half of the culverts that I drive by are undersized and half full of sediment like they haven't been cleaned out in a long time," Ivey said. "They might not have been properly installed, and when you have heavy rainfall, that's usually one of the main culprits."
Ascension is one of the nine parish's whose homebuilders the association Ivey chairs represents. In an interview Tuesday, he said a blanket, parish-wide pause isn't necessary.
"[Ascension Parish is] not obligated to approve every single development that comes across," Ivey said of planning and zoning officials. "If [development proposals] can't meet the traffic regulations and drainage regulations, they don't have to approve those developments. We're okay with that."
Ivey first shared a similar message directly with Cointment and council members last month, when droves of residents spoke out in support of the moratorium.
Now as the parish is set to provide an update on the proposal during Thursday's council meeting, two weeks before a vote is expected, Cointment appears to be attempting to control the story.
Tuesday afternoon, a parish spokesman told media outlets to submit any moratorium questions for the parish president 25 hours before Thursday's meeting. In a follow-up email with WBRZ, Martin McConnell said Cointment would 'not hold a press conference nor will he address any questions that were not previously submitted.'
Hours later, as WBRZ went looking to see if Cointment's pitch has led developers to rush to submit permit requests in the eleventh hour since any moratorium would not be retroactive, the parish told a reporter they would have to submit a public records request for that information. As of Tuesday night, the parish had received the request but had not yet provided the requested information.
As the back and forth continues, Ivey fears the effort will not only fail to solve flooding issues but cause the parish's growth to take a hit, causing businesses to look elsewhere.
"If the solution is, 'we're gonna shut you down while we come up with solutions and you're gonna have to pay the price for it,' that would be a red flag for me," Ivey said.
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