St. Charles Council rejects re-zoning

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Staff Reporter

HAHNVILLE — The St. Charles Council rejected a measure that would re-zone 24 acres of land in Montz for single family homes after hearing from a long line of residents who claimed the area could not support a new subdivision.

During a public hearing that lasted nearly an hour, Montz residents from Country Cottage Estates and Dixieland Subdivision, developments that border the land in question, expressed concerns that a new subdivision would bring heavier traffic to their quiet neighborhood and further hinder an already strained sewage and drainage system. The land, which would change in classification from open land to R-1A residential space, would have no direct access to River Road.

“A new development would create a highway right in front of my yard,” said Melanie Schexnayder, a resident of Dixieland Estates who said the potential new development would use her subdivision’s streets. “It was always our intention to live in a quiet neighborhood where our kids can play. Thoroughbred Drive cannot handle the excess traffic.”

Resident Mark Duck, whose home is in the “S-curve” of Thoroughbred Drive, said the street is too narrow in that area for two larger vehicles to maneuver the street safely. He said drivers frequently end up in his yard when trying to make the turn.

“More traffic on this street would make the problem much worse,” said Duck. “In addition to that, the road has no sidewalks and kids must often use the street to get to and from friend’s houses.”

Chris Kennedy, president of the Montz Civic Association, told the council that he believes that the re-zone will conflict with the recently approved Montz land use plan. He said a re-zone decision should not be made until a comprehensive drainage and flooding study is conducted in the area.

“This area already has flooding problems and the flood canals are in desperate need of repair,” Kennedy said. “These residents don’t want more water in their homes.”

In defense of his company’s request, OT Properties Partner Chris Trepagnier said that the developer is merely asking for a re-zone of the property and expressed that any new subdivision would comply with conditions set by the planning and zoning department.

“Land use in Montz has changed over the past few months,” said Trepagnier. “The zoning is moving away from open land and toward R-1A residential.”

District 6 Councilman Marcus Lambert, who represents the Montz area, voiced his opposition to the measure stating that the community in question is under extreme pressure for improvements, which need to take place before any new development moves forward. He said the council should consider a moratorium on new residential developments in the community until improvements are made.

District 4 Councilman Paul Hogan cast the lone vote in favor of the re-zone request because he said the parish has the power to oppose proposed subdivisions that do not meet planning and zoning standards. Hogan said his decision did not hinge on the fact that he himself is employed by a developer. He said a rezone refusal in this area leaves the parish open to potential lawsuits because a decision of this kind is arbitrary.

“I am for whatever is right for the parish,” Hogan said. “This is merely a re-zone action.”