St. James Council adopts land plan

Published 2:33 pm Saturday, April 5, 2014

By Monique Roth


CONVENT – The St. James Parish Council voted on Wednesday to adopt the parish’s land use plan ordinance, which includes a generalized map to guide the future development of St. James Parish in conjunction with the parish’s comprehensive master plan.

Over the last few months, public hearings and public informational meetings related to the proposed ordinance were held for residents to learn about and discuss the future land use plan component of the comprehensive plan.

Councilman Jason Amato said the plan is “setting St. James Parish up for success in the future,” and that the plan was the combination of a lot of time and effort.

The land use plan divides the parish into categories, including residential/future industrial, residential growth, commercial, commercial/residential mixed, industrial, agricultural, recreation, schools, fire department, water and wetlands.

Two other categories, Lutcher and Gramercy, are shown for informational uses only be   cause they are each governed by their own ordinances.

Dozens of residents showed up to the April 2 council meeting to voice their opinions about the adoption of the plan, which has been in the works for nearly five years.

While many residents told the council they were in favor of the plan because it protected large industrial companies from constructing plants and factories too close to their homes, other residents weren’t sure the plan had every resident’s best interest in mind.

Keith Matherne, a local farmer, told the council he was not in favor of the land use plan because he paid for the land that he owns and he feels as though he should be able to sell it to whoever is interested in buying it.

Hester native Bran don Gravois, a fourth-generation sugar cane farmer, told the council he was also not in favor of the plan.

“Our voices seem to be smaller than higher-populated areas,” said Gravois.

He urged the council to amend the plan so that it worked for everyone.

Councilman James Brazan said the plan could be reworked over time to better suite particular needs, but that “we’ve got to start somewhere.”

The council unanimously approved the ordinance to adopt the land use plan.

Enforcement of the plan will be done through the parish’s Planning Commission, with the council only hearing certain appeals.