Court rules in favor of City of Gonzales on spot zoning issue

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

On June 23, in a Gonzales courtroom of Honorable Judge Jessie LeBlanc, an issue of spot zoning was finally put to rest after years of strife for the City of Gonzales and its Council. Mayor Barney Arceneaux has released the following statement in regard to the 23rd Judicial District Court ruling on the matter on Laverne Deal, Darrell Irvin, Lloyd Irvin, Roosevelt Mackyeon, Tyrone Smith and Frank Smith Jr. versus the City of Gonzales, Mayor Barney Arceneaux, The City Council for the City of Gonzales, and the Zoning Commission for the City of Gonzales.

“We have been dealing with a matter for some time now that many felt was a spot zoning issue. A tract of Lamendola property was at the center of this issue and we are elated that it has finally been resolved in our favor,” said Mayor Arceneaux. “An application for the rezoning of 18.62 was filed by Mr. Sonny Lamendola. At the recommendation of our Zoning Commission, which is made up of a group of people knowledgable of our laws and ordinances, our City Council approved the recommendation. Many of us have known from the beginning that this was never a spot zoning issue. The Center for Planning Excellence was brought in, at our request and paid for with city funds, to further reiterate that no spot zoning had taken place. It was unfortunate that the situation escalated to the point of a group of individuals feeling the need to file a motion for summary judgement, but as democracy dictates, they were within their right to do so. To know how our initial opinions confirmed by a court of law allows us to continue moving the City of Gonzales in the right direction, and we can once again focus on our growth as a community.’

The initial filing stated concerns that the Lamendola property had been rezoned form an R-15, or residential status, to a C-2, which is for commercial use. The rezoning was approved on June 25 of 2015, after having been annexed into the city on January 23 of that same year. Spot zoning refers to the “granting of a zoning classification to a piece of land that differs from that of other land in the immediate area. The term refers to zoning which singles out an area for treatment differently than that of similar surrounding land and which cannot be justified on the bases of health, safety, moral or general welfare of the community and which is not in accordance with a comprehensive plan.”

City of Gonzales Zoning Commission Board President Frank Cagnolatti, offered testimony for the initial approval based upon the Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the city. He stated that “Communities of this sixe do not have the luxury of expensive and well defined transition zones. Therefore, it is not uncommon in Gonzales to proceed from C-2 to a medium residential distance over a district of less than 100 feet with no derogatory effects to the community.”

After hearing all testimony, Judge LeBlanc ruled that the issue was not one of spot zoning, but were it to be considered spot zoning it would still not be illegal.

Court records stated that “spot zoning is legal if the spot created is not arbitrarily discriminating, i.e. is not given special advantages offer adjoining property without regard to public welfare.

“This ruling is a positive one in that it clarifies any misgivings about the spot zoning issue,” reiterated Mayor Arceneaux. “To legally have a judgement in place that states what a paid organization has been telling us for some time allows for no misinterpretation of the law.”