Plantation Oaks addition stonewalled again by St. John Parish Council

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 11, 2000

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / February 11, 2000

LAPLACE – The fate of phase two of Plantation Oaks subdivision in Garyville is still up in the air.

Developers left Tuesday’s St. John Parish Council meeting shaking theirheads, because the council tabled preliminary approval of the project. Thisissue has been presented to the council five times in the past year, and five times the matter has been tabled.

The main sticking point to granting approval is drainage. Residents who livein phase one of Plantation Oaks do not want any more development in the area until the parish can come up with a drainage plan that will keep water out of people’s houses.

At the last parish meeting councilman Allen St. Pierre proposed a drainagesolution that involved putting culverts under the Kansas City railroad tracks that pass in front of the subdivision. The tracks keep rain water fromdraining north into the swamp on the other side of Airline Highway. At thetime, St.Pierre said the project would cost about $25,000.However, St. Pierre said Tuesday that after he, Mitch Labas, engineer forShread-Kuyrkendall, and Parish President Nickie Monica surveyed the problem, the project would cost $330,000. St. Pierre said he managed to getLabas to reduce that price by $90,000.

St. Pierre said he is waiting for an answer from Kansas City Railroad to seeif it will pay for the project or at least share the costs with the parish.

Councilman Cleveland Farlough said he has had enough.

“I’m tired of going back and forth with this and holding up the developers.”Farlough told the council.

Monica then told the council he was going to have a meeting with the Kansas City representative and get the railroad to pay for the project.

Farlough made a motion to postpone the matter for two weeks to allow Monica time to negotiate with the railroad company.

But St. Pierre wanted to finish the matter.”I really feel we’ve been keeping the developers hostage. I want to give thempreliminary approval tonight,” he said.

Farlough asked Monica, “Will the administration come back in two weeks with a specific solution to the Plantation Oaks problem?” Monica replied, ” We’re waiting on KC for funding. The parish is committed,and we will make the canals larger.”Farlough then asked, “If KC doesn’t give the money, will you have a specific recommendation?” “We will recommend only if KC will pay,” answered Monica. “The Parish Councilwill have to find the money.”An angry St. Pierre responded, “We can find money for a lot of things, whynot this?” Developer Carl Monica said, “The drainage problem is not just for Plantation Oaks but for all of Garyville and Mt. Airy. You have got to find the monies todo this. Preliminary approval is not the final approval. Let’s get this show onthe road. Give us preliminary approval so we can get on with the project.”Remy Amadee, a resident of Plantation Oaks and frequent speaker on the issue at council meetings, seemed totally fed up with the whole matter.

“Don’t do nothing, and let them do what they want,” he yelled at the council.

“Let it flood. You know who is being held hostage here? We are.”He continued, “I have the study by Labas that says it would cost $1 million.

Which is the right study? We have been given a bag with a lot of empty promises.”Another resident, Steve Meer, wanted to know why Kansas City couldn’t be held responsible for the whole issue.

“They used to have trestles for the tracks, then they filled them in. I thinkwe should pressure KC for damages,” he said.

St. Pierre was optimistic about getting money from the railroad.”We’ve had a lot of success with the KC railroad,” he said. “They have alwaysput in culverts at no expense to the parish. I think they will do everything toassist us. I move we grant approval.”But Farlough made a substitute motion that postponed any action for two weeks to allow Monica to negotiate with Kansas City Railroad.

The motion passed unanimously.

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