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Two weeks after introducing moratorium proposal, Ascension Parish mostly mum

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DONALDSONVILLE - Two weeks after droves of Ascension Parish residents spoke up in favor of a 12-month development moratorium, the latest discussion of the topic was much more subdued.

Inside the historic Donaldsonville courthouse, as fans tried to break up a stifling Thursday night, the temperatures of those in attendance were also rising even before the meeting began.

Sitting in the front row, Parish president Clint Cointment remained mostly silent during the meeting. His very brief president's report did not touch on his moratorium proposal.

The only discussion of his proposal would follow his comments, in the form of a quick legal explanation, which wrapped up in mere minutes after a few council members peppered the parish’s legal counsel with questions on wording, legality, and goals of the proposal.

Also in contrast to last month's council meeting in Gonzales, only one resident requested to speak. Her message was quite similar to those shared previously by dozens of proponents.

"We hope all of you will represent all of us, as you were elected to do, and be the voice of the people of Ascension Parish and not the developers," one resident said.

Patricia Peno, an Ascension resident, who backs the parish president's plan, says she wishes he'd sell his proposal a little bit more. She's worried without a solid pitch, some council members could tank the moratorium or water it down significantly later this month.

"I have a feeling [that] at the last minute, some things are going to be thrown up that'll stop it, or try to stop it," Peno said.

Questions about the moratorium that the parish told media had to be submitted by Wednesday, 24 hours in advance of the meeting, weren’t answered Thursday. A parish representative says those responses would be ready Friday or, at the latest, Monday.

Some showing up to learn more about the moratorium from those for, and against it, left empty-handed. For Peno, she has a harmless explanation.

"I assume it's because it was on this side of the river, where they're not really affected by subdivisions as much as the other side," Peno said. "But I was kind of surprised that there was less talk about it."

There's also a part of her that fears what a sparse discussion could ultimately mean for the proposal.

"Makes me think a lot of this taking place away from the public," Peno said.

A vote on the development moratorium is expected at the council's June 17 meeting.

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