Truckstop plan faces battle

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 23, 2004

By Sue Ellen Ross Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – A request to change the zoning of property located on Airline Highway near Old Hwy. 51, from Commercial/Residential allowance to Industrial allowance, was on Wednesday’s agenda of the Planning and Zoning Board.

But a vote to accept it was not taken.

An estimated 20 residents living in the immediate area listened patiently while the board tabled the decision until their February meeting.

“We are not very happy about this,” said residents’ spokesperson, Michael Madere, after the meeting. “We just want to get it over with.” Madere lives near a section of old Highway 51, which also would be affected by the change.

Gus Treme is proposing a truckstop/casino business to be located on the grounds of the now-closed Airline Motors Restaurant. “We already have three truckstops in the parish,” said Madere. “This would make a fourth.”

Residents are hopping mad that the area is being considered for this type of development, and they voiced their opposition by writing a petition to oppose the re-zoning.

A total of 309 area residents signed the protest, which was then sent to both the St. John Parish Council members and the Planning and Zoning Board, according to resident Daniel Cashio.

Cashio also notified his area council representative, Sean Roussel. “I received a reply from Councilman Roussel,” he said. “He is aware of our position.”

After the meeting, Roussel affirmed that he replied to the

letter and the worries stated therein. “I am in the process of setting up a meeting between Mr. Treme and the residents,” he said. “This will give everyone an opportunity to address specific concerns.”

Tentative plans call for the meeting to be held next week at the LaPlace Main Library. No further details were available at press time.

Board member Connie Powell stated that this attempt to air concerns may benefit both parties involved. “A meeting between Mr. Treme and the residents can address drainage, buffering, landscaping, etc.,” she said. “The plan really does need additional information before an intelligent decision can be made.”

In other news at Wednesday’s meeting, a request from Kimble Development to re-zone Lot 6C2, Airline Highway, Reserve, from Industrial-1 to Commercial-3 for construction of a retail building, was unanimously accepted by the Board.

Representative Mike Kimble, of Baton Rouge, told the board that he is planning to build a Family Dollar Store on the site. The Board agreed that this project would bring an economic boost to the area.