Parish President: southern loop dead in Ascension

Wade McIntyre

Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez said he intends to resign from the Baton Rouge Loop Authority now that the southern loop of the proposed project that would have traversed Ascension Parish has been determined economically unfeasible.

Speaking at the April 15 Parish Council meeting, Martinez said the southern portion of the loop was ruled out because it would have meant building two new bridges across the Mississippi River boosting the overall loop cost to $4.5 million.

If Livingston and East Baton Rouge parishes want to get together and work out a northern loop “they can do it,” Martinez said.

But, there will be no southern loop in Ascension Parish, he said, so residents can now buy land or homes in the potentially affected area with no concerns about a loop’s affect on property values or homeowner rights.

Also, in his President’s Report to the council, Martinez reported that Ascension Parish so far has a 65 percent census return rate, the highest in the seven parish region. And, he reported that $700,000 had been appropriated by the legislature, according to area Sen. Jody Amedee.

In unrelated business, the council introduced a much debated ordinance that would change the official zoning designation for 171.42 acres in the Keystone of Galvez Planned Unit Development.

A handful or residents  who live near the proposed PUD spoke against allowing developers to increase the residential density of the PUD from its current 749-lot restriction.

Kenneth Maher of Pine Lake Drive said residents near the PUD opposed to increasing the number of lots sometimes feel their voice is not being heard in development discussions. He said planners and government refer to the crown jewels of the parish in terms of fire departments, schools and other developments, but that the real crown jewels in the parish are generations of families that have been living here for years.

Brett St. Germain, who also lives hear Keystone echoed the same sentiment. Residents who have lived in the affected area for years “don’t feel like we’re being heard.”

Craig Rushing said the developer is proposing 500 lots in Keystone that would be under 1/4 acre in size. Characterizing Galvez as a rural suburban community, he said residents do not want massive apartments and tiny lots.  “Tiny lots violate our protections,” he said.

Councilmen ended up introducing the ordinance, saying they would vote on an amendment at the next council meeting offered by Councilman Todd Lambert which would restrict the Keystone PUD to 749 lots.

In another unrelated matter, Recreation Director Garney Gautreau gave an update on recreation activity in the parish.

Among the improvements are installation of climbing rocks at area parks, an increase in the number baseball players and teams for them to play on, the purchase of the fairgrounds in Donaldsonville, and the growing popularity of the senior soc hop program.

Gautreau said the installation of new cameras at Butch Gore Park resulted in the 16 persons being caught for unlawful behavior and sentenced to community service work.