No action again on Plantation Oaks

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / December 30, 1999

LAPLACE – For the third and final time this year, the St. John ParishCouncil agreed not to vote on an ordinance to allow developers to begin preliminary studies on Phase 2 of the Plantation Oaks subdivision in Garyville.

After listening to several concerned Garyville residents and the developers, the council agreed to let the new Parish Council handle the issue at the council meeting on Jan. 25, 2000.The major objection to starting the next phase of the subdivision is drainage. Ever since the state of Louisiana put in the new LouisianaHighway 54 connecting Airline Highway to River Road, the area has been plagued with drainage problems.

Recently, the parish, the Kansas City Railroad and the state have helped to relieve flooding on the east side of La. 54 by putting in new culverts underthe railroad tracks and dredging out drainage ditches and the Hope Canal where all water from Garyville drains.

However, there have been no such improvements on the west side of the highway, and Garyville residents are afraid if there is new housing construction without any drainage improvements the flooding will get worse every time it rains in the area.

Despite some changes to the original plans reducing the number of houses from 29 to 27 and putting in open drainage and paved roads, the Planning and Zoning Council of St. John has not OKed the plans.Laurette Thymes, director of Planning and Zoning, said, “The council should wait until drainage improvements are done on the west side of the highway.”Garyville residents who testified at the meeting agreed.

Remy Amadee said if the council approved the ordinance it was just “putting the cart ahead of the horse,” because without the drainage improvements, “Plantation Oaks will still flood.”However, Carl Monica, one of the developers, claimed, “Drainage is not the problem, the railroad track is the problem.”Brian Acosta, resident of Timbermill Loop on the east side of the highway, disputed Monica’s claim.

“The railroad has always been willing to help the parish,” Acosta told the council. “They are willing to do more. All we have to do is buy the culvertsand they will install them under the tracks for us.”Monica didn’t think there was any danger in just letting the council grant preliminary approval. “We don’t even know if we want to develop outthere,” he said. “We just want an OK from the council to do the study.”The other developer, Frank Monica, agreed.

“We don’t even know if we can do anything with this property,” he told the council. “We just want to do a preliminary study.”Like Carl, Frank is not convinced drainage and flooding is the problem.

“The bottom line is that 20 homes are not going to affect the flooding of Garyville,” he claimed.

Finally, Councilman Dale Wolfe ended the discussion by saying, “My head says yeah, but my hear says nay. We don’t want another Homewood here, soI say we wait until the new council is in place to vote on it.”Wolfe moved the issue be postponed until the Jan. 25,2000 meeting.Joel McTopy concurred. “Increased development,” he said, “causes floodingin other areas. We must be diligent in these things.”The motion passed unanimously.

In a related matter, Councilman-elect of District 2, Allen St. Pierre,introduced a resolution that would turn both the old and new Louisiana Highway 54 over to the state and the Department of Transportation and Development.

St. Pierre said the state and the DOTD have the funds to maintain thehighway and this would save the parish money. McTopy moved to amend theresolution so the state would also take care of the Hope Canal. Theamended resolution was passed unanimously.

In other council business, the council passed the 2000 parish budget with several new additions as proposed by the finance committee. In theGeneral Fund, the council accepted the Coroner’s Office request for an extra $6,000; Public Works got $50,000 for sidewalk and curbing improvement; the St. John Theater got a $12,000 subsidy; and the SalesTax District went from $600,000 to $400,000. The latter is tax revenueused to subsidize parish sewer repairs.

The $21.7 million budget was passed 7-1 with McTopy voting against it.Councilman Kevin Duhon was absent.

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