Ascension Council blocks PUD expansion

Wade McIntyre

At its regular session Thursday, the Parish Council declined to approve a PUD request for more housing units in a 318-acre planned unit development.

Former parish councilman Jared Beiriger represented the developer of the Keystone of Galvez PUD, and parish Planning Director Ricky Compton indicated that the Planning Department was in favor of increasing the lot size by roughly 200 lots to a total of about 950.

The development was approved early in the administration of former President Ronnie Hughes before Hurricane Katrina. Beiriger was a councilman at the time.

Councilmen Todd Lambert and George Valentine, who were on the council when the original PUD was approved, were against letting Keystone increase its density by adding more lots.

Valentine said he was disappointed the request was made, because it was done mostly for economic reasons “so someone can make more money.”

“PUDs are not bad things,” Valentine stressed. But developers should stick with the original PUD concept the council approves for them, he said.

Lambert was successful introducing an amendment to an original Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation which would  allowed the increase in lots. Lambert’s motion limits the number of lots to its original 749 slots. It passed 9-0 with Council Chairman Pat Bell and Councilman Benny Johnson absent.

Lambert said his amendment was a result of his listening to constituents. With school, traffic and infrastructure issues in the parish at the current levels, Lambert said he did not see how increasing lots in the Keystone Pub would be an example of Smart Growth.

A second amendment to the overall Planning Department PUD approval request as adopted was introduced by Councilman Dempsey Lambert. It limits access to emergency vehicles such as firetrucks and ambulances only between the Keystone PUD and neighboring Timberlake estates. PUD developer Kevin Nguyen had sought to build a full access road between the two developments.