St. Gabriel residents voice disapproval over proposed rail yard along River Road
ST. GABRIEL - Residents in St. Gabriel have voiced their concerns about a potential rail yard along River Road.
It was standing room only in the small meeting room at the city's community center on Monday night. And residents there did not shy away from their opinions.
The meeting was organized by people in the St. Gabriel community. A far majority said that they simply don't want this new industrial development in their city.
There are approximately 400 acres of land that a rail company wants to buy between River Road and LA 30. The company, Railport, wants to use the land for a rail yard and warehouses to store and transport materials coming to and from the facility on rail cars.
The land is part of a larger 3,000 acres of land that sits nearby two existing plants.
Residents in the area came out and discussed the proposal headed of Wednesday's planning and zoning meeting.
“What do we want to do with that? No one is going to build a subdivision right next door to that facility,” one resident said.
The item being introduced at Wednesday's meeting is to rezone the 440 acres from a residential area (R1A) to a light industrial area (M1).
“We are simply storage, and distribution and warehouses,” Christoper Senegal with Railport said.
Senegal did his best to ease peoples' minds and said that only non-hazardous, mostly plastic materials, would be transported and stored at the facility.
“They’ve never had a single derailment on a single site. They’re very safe. At some of their other sites, they do handle nasty chemicals that you guys probably wouldn’t want here. This site is focused on plastic pellets,” Senegal said.
But residents were not convinced and made that known to both Senegal and city council members at the meeting.
“They had said no hazardous materials. Well, there’s hardly anything that’s not hazardous at some level,” another resident said.
The facility would create somewhere around 100 jobs, but community members at this meeting made it clear they don’t want more industry in the area.
“We have plenty of jobs. It’s just a question of what do we want our community to be,” one resident said.
“It seems every six months we’re in this room talking about somebody else that wants to move into town. Some have better records than others. But the one thing that’s constant is once you give the okay, you don’t really know what you just bought,” another resident said.
The rezoning of the area will be introduced at the planning and zoning meeting on Wednesday before it’s brought before the city council next week. They will not vote on the item until an official community meeting is held in the area.
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