Gonzales subdivision pushes through zoning commission despite residents' concerns
GONZALES - Farmland is turning into real estate, and there's a storm brewing in Ascension Parish. People who live in the area are questioning how the development approval process was handled, and they contacted 2 On Your Side about their concerns.
Tricia Peno has lived along O'Neal Road in Ascension Parish for decades.
"This is my family's land, actually, it's been in my family for a long time," Peno said.
Dantin Bruce Development has plans to build Windermere Crossing Subdivision behind Peno's home. The neighborhood consisting of about 35 acres would be made up of 103 homes with a minimum size of 7,280 square feet. About 75 percent of the property is within an X flood zone, and there are about seven acres of wetlands within the site. The development would drain to Black Bayou, which is just to the north of the property.
When the development application was submitted, it included a right turn-in, left turn-in, and right-turn out of Roddy Road. Following about 50 minutes of back-and-forth at the Jan. 13 Planning Commission meeting, Windermere Crossing was approved with an additional right turn-in and right turn out onto Cannon Road.
It was originally not suggested to connect to Cannon Road because of its restricted width of fewer than 18 feet. Part of the approval included a building restriction that would widen Cannon Road to at least 18 feet from Roddy Road to Oneal Road. Even then, Peno says Cannon Road is a narrow stretch that leads to other narrow roads. And with the additional neighborhood traffic, she is concerned about what will happen.
"Putting that many houses in an already stressed area is just not right," she said.
Neighbor Eric Kehn agrees that new development is good, but the infrastructure can't take it.
"Nothing was done since this was country and we're trying to make it city without making the infrastructure city," he said.
Kehn and Peno both take issue with how the development was discussed and approved at the Planning Commission meeting. Concerns over Cannon Road being too narrow and the lack of a traffic study for the additional subdivision entrance and widening was mentioned.
"I think the problem that we have Mr. Murphy is that we want to widen Cannon Road, but we don't have a traffic impact study to know that's going to need that," Chairman Matthew Pryor said.
There's concern that the Planning Commission has no authority to make the decisions that it did.
"It didn't go through our planning department, it was just flat-out illegal," resident Jeff Pettit said.
Parish President Clint Cointment posted on Facebook following the meeting where three subdivision plats were approved. In his post he said, "unfortunately, the Parish's Development Code lacks appropriate ordinances that would have enabled the commission to reject one or all of those subdivisions."
Cointment also wrote that he pledges that he will do everything he can to change the Development Code and tighten restrictions on development. His full Facebook post can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/AscensionParishGovernment/posts/258551415784875
Calls to Dantin Bruce Development and Chairman Matthew Pryor were not returned.
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