Plans for subdivision expansion in LaPlace rejected by Parish Council

Published 5:00 pm Friday, July 7, 2023

LAPLACE — Plans for a proposed 49-house expansion in the Harvest Run Subdivision in LaPlace that were previously rejected by the St. John the Baptist Planning and Zoning Commission met a similar fate during a June 27 meeting of the Parish Council.

Members unanimously rejected the proposed re-subdivision, a proposal that was met with widespread opposition among nearby residents. Neighbor Carol Keating said the additional 49 residential units, of which no plans or drawings were presented to either the neighbors, parish council or P&Z commission, would only worsen existing flooding, drainage and sewerage problems.

“Anybody that is going to add dirt to the land that Is already there will only make the problems worse,” Keating said, as she pleaded with council members to reject the proposal. “Then there is the problem with the poles that are falling down and the people throwing trash in the ditches.

“Forty-nine houses compared to the amount of people that do not want it. I think it stands for more than 49 houses.”

District 3 Councilman Tammy Houston, who represents the area where the expansion was proposed, said residents of her district have spoken “loud and clear.”

“And I want you to know that I heard you loud and clear and I will be making a motion not to approve (the ordinance),” she said. “The residents are right. They put us here (on the council) to be their voice, and I will be their voice tonight.”

No one spoke in favor of the proposal as it met a second and fatal setback. Developers will have to wait at least a year before the proposal can be brought back to the council.

In other matters, the council approved an ordinance merging three voting precincts, putting the final touches on the parish’s redistricting process, as mandated by law following the census every 10 years. The ordinance merges Precincts 3-4, 3-5 and 3-6.

District 2 Councilman Warren Torres, whose district buttressed District 3 in some areas, said he was confused by the changes and why only three precincts were singled out for merger. He alleged he was not part of the process.

“If you want to see a fiasco, come to (a polling place on the West Bank) when we are voting with two precincts, one on the left and one on the right,” he said, adding that the process “was a waste of time in my book.”

Josh Manning of the South Central Planning Commission that helped redraw the districts, said as part of the process, whenever districts are either reshaped or created into smaller precincts, each precinct must be staffed with election commissioners and also have voting machines. He said that with every parish in the state going through a similar process, an existing shortage of voting machines would only be made worse.

“Any precincts with less than 300 voters, the parish is on the hook to pay for every election for the next 10 years so we want to try to identify those precincts and merge those precincts with adjacent precincts in order to not have those costs come back to the parish,” he said.

He admitted he was hoping a higher number of precincts would have been able to have been merged but in every other instance there was either a representative district line, a school board district line, state senate or congressional district line.

“That’s the reason we can’t provide more mergers than I originally hoped,” Manning said.

Upon further questioning from Torres, Manning pointed out that decisions on individual polling places are typically made by the parish clerk of court or the council. He patiently explained that South Central Planning does not dictate or mandate polling locations.

“As the council, if you know a better polling location it would behoove you to bring that forward and we would do whatever we need to do to make that happen,” he said. “This was part of our redistricting contract with you.”

He further explained that the parish must first split a district before sending the proposal to the Louisiana Secretary of State for approval. Once approved, precinct mergers will then be completed.

“Two of three precincts were carved off from adjacent precincts,” he said. “Now they are all within District 3. It was feasible and economical to do to it this way.”

He said the state has preapproved the plan.

The council also approved an ordinance that will require individuals applying for permits for a trailer to not only initially install skirts but they must be maintained throughout the life of the trailer. Existing trailers are grandfathered in,

“I have a lot of problems with trailer parks and upkeep of them so this should help,” Councilman Lennix Madere said. “We have some good trailer parks and some bad trailer parks. I hope this will help straighten some of those bad ones out.”