No St. Charles barge changes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE – The St. Charles Parish Council voted Monday to strongly oppose proposed changes to a barge fleeting area in Destrehan after several residents near the facility spoke out against the plans.

The council decided unanimously to deny Magnolia Fleet LLC the opportunity to add a parking lot and more places to fasten barges at its facility near Ormond Drive.  The vote included a stipulation, proposed by Councilman Paul Hogan, that said the Army Corps of Engineers hold a public hearing on the changes before any movement on the project be made.

“There is significant opposition from this council and the residents,” said Hogan. “I believe it is only fair.”

Several residents from Ormond and Destrehan were in attendance Monday night to voice their strong objection to Magnolia’s plans to the council. Residents brought up everything from levee integrity to concerns about potential toxins being carried by the barges being docked at the facility.

“I think the recent (fuel oil) spill in New Orleans should give us extra cause for concern,” said Ormond resident Eric Rozycki. “The level of noise and dust stirred up in that area is bad enough already, and a parking lot would only add to the problem.”

Ormond resident Richard Bartley said the changes would pose a threat to the Ormond Plantation historical site. He also brought up questions about proper land usage.

“This is not just an expansion, but a new use for the property,” said Bartley.

Kim Marousek of St. Charles Planning and Zoning said the property Magnolia wants to expand on is zoned for nonindustrial use, which says that the most that land could be used for would be a restaurant or private camp area, but the zoning does not apply to barge fleets along the river.

Along with the parking lot and the additional barges, the council also took issue with the addition of a ramp over the levee in the area. Both the council and the residents expressed their concerns regarding safety and levee stability.

“Anything that would weaken the levee I am opposed to because of the serious impact it may have on the residents,” said David Deloache, a former resident of the Lakeview area in New Orleans who now lives in Destrehan. “I think it will pose a threat to runners and cyclists who use the levee as well.”

Steve Wilson, president of the Pontchartrain Levee District, told the council that if a company applies for a permit for a ramp over the levee, the levee district must honor that request if it is approved by the corps and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

“Businesses need to access their property,” said Wilson.

In other action from Monday, the council also voted unanimously to offer no objection to a permit from Sorrento Pipeline Company to install and maintain an 8-inch gas pipeline running from the Motiva refinery in Norco to the Marathon Refinery in Garyville.

Marousek said the pipeline would run through an existing pipeline corridor and only impact 29 acres. She said the request is in compliance with land use laws.

The pipeline would improve refining capabilities at the Motiva refinery.