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Jefferson Parish not admitted to airport group

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / September 29, 1998

HAHNVILLE – Agreement and cooperation among representatives of the St. Charles Parish Council and the city councils of Kenner and New Orleans highlighted a joint meeting Thursday at New Orleans International Airport.

However, little could be decided, save for an agreement to keep meeting for discussion of airport issues.

The next meeting of the committee is tentatively set Oct. 28 at 6 p.m. atthe Aviation Board meeting room.

One of what might have been a hot topic Thursday was quickly defused.

The Kenner City Council, through a resolution introduced by St. CharlesParish Councilman G. “Ram” Ramchandran, asked for approval ofrepresentatives of the Jefferson Parish Council to join the Joint Airport Committee.

Kenner Councilwoman Michele Branigan said she had no opposition to keeping Jefferson Parish officials out.

“Kenner is more affected than Jefferson Parish,” she commented.

New Orleans Councilman Jim Singleton, who chaired the meeting, said he works closely with Tim Coulon (Jefferson Parish president) and Aaron Broussard (Jefferson Council chairman) through the Regional Planning Commission and would keep them abreast of anything they may need to know.

New Orleans Councilman Eddie Sapir concurred, and added, “I agree wholeheartedly. I understand St. Charles Parish’s position, but we shouldbe open-minded if it comes back up in the future.”Representing St. Charles Parish at the meeting were Ramchandran, BrianChampagne and alternate member Barry Minnich, who was standing in for Curtis Johnson.

Also representing Kenner were Councilwomen Jeannie Black and Branigan and Councilman Marc Johnson. Also representing New Orleans wasCouncilman Roy Glapion Jr.

In opening remarks, Ramchandran urged future communication and cooperation over airport development. “The stakeholders have to gettogether and do what’s right,” he said.

Glapion concurred, and said, “It’s important we all work together and have an open mind. I think we’ve wasted too much time over the years.”Sapir noted, “It’s very refreshing, seeing the spirit of open-mindedness.

This is absolutely the right approach.”Singleton added, “We have problems which need to be solved and we’ve taken too long to solve them.”Quickly, then, the meeting turned to a thorny issue – St. Rose and thenorth-south runway proposal.

Champagne said, “We now have people who are being held hostage and can’t sell their homes. They want to see definite deadlines as to when thingswill take place.”Aviation Director Ed Levell Jr. said of an agenda item “Airport Study onimpact of expansion in St. Charles Parish,” “There’s no such animal.”Levell continued that an environmental impact study, to take two to two- and-a-half years “hasn’t even started yet.”Along the way, there would be public hearings, where St. Rose homeownerscould have their opportunity to protest.

Ramchandran added companies in James Business Park are also being told they need Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval on construction at the site. “Are you addressing the issue?” he asked Levell.”The study is just preliminary,” Levell responded. He later suggested”maybe it’s a height restriction issue.”Champagne urged, “We need to get to the bottom of this issue.”Ramchandran declared, “When businesses have a problem expanding, I want to know why!” Other concerns were voiced by the government representatives, including soundproofing, plans for a new parking facility south of Airline Highway, flights deviating from established flight paths and noise abatement.

Karen Smith, a Dianne Place Subdivision, St. Rose, resident and anenvironmental planner for Exxon, addressed the meeting. She said therunway is of top priority, but she also said flight-path deviation was also a concern to her, as she was awakened at 11:30 the night before by a jet flying low over her house.

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