West bank projects planned by council

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 14, 2004

By SUE ELLEN ROSS – Staff Reporter

EDGARD – Two projects presented to the St. John Parish Council Tuesday involve quite a bit of acreage on the West Bank in Edgard.

The first item on the agenda was approval of the purchase price on land needed for the development of a recreation complex.

The board approved the project itself in March, but the purchase price for 75 acres of land between River Road and the Texas and Pacific Railroad was not. The board approved the buy Tuesday at $3,000 per acre, with the option of adding surrounding land, if needed, at a later date for $1,700 per acre. This is subject to clear title examination and appraisal.

The original tract of land proposed for the recreation complex included 235 acres, but the council decided 75 acres would be enough.

The development has been years in the making. “We just added numbers to it (the project)” said councilman Lester Rainey. “Now we are ready to move forward.”

The second project brought before the council Tuesday included discussion of the construction of a motor speedway by New Orleans businessman Robert Maloney in relation to creating a tax district.

There will be a public hearing on Maloney’s plans at the next council meeting May 25.

Maloney wasn’t present at the meeting, but councilman Rainey spoke on behalf of introduction of the project. “Yesterday we had a workshop with Mr. Maloney, discussing a resolution, support and the tax district,” he said.

Creation of a tax district to support tax increment financing is part of the undertaking, Rainey explained. This type of financing permits the parish to issue bonds, and borrow against future tax revenues from a project. This deflected revenue eventually pays a portion of the venture.

The district is created by the adoption of an ordinance.

Edgard resident A. Smith said he was not against the proposed construction, but wanted to know if something could be written to the effect that the developer would have to hire local people.

Board chairman Joel McTopy said that law only allows so much to be written by the board. “We are bound by the limits of the law,” he said. “We certainly can inquire and suggest, but anything beyond that would be extortion.”

Rainey told the board that Maloney recognizes the issue brought up by Smith, and that the developer is in full agreement that St. John people should be employed in areas involved in his project.