Parish Council gets ahead of itself

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief

The Ascension Parish Council appears to mean well in what they would like to achieve, with regards to building, post-flood but cannot move quickly enough on building ordinances.

That became evident at the regular meeting held in Donaldsonville on Thursday, June 1. The council got particularly caught up in item number 8. Item 8 on the agenda states "Resolution - to limit fill to no more than 2 feet in Flood Zones A and AE." This concerns residents both in St. Amant and in parts of Prairieville.

First, there seems to be overall dismay from Councilman "Doc" Satterlee in the general realm of casting a Resolution by the council. Satterlee cited the resolution to suggest President Kenny Matassa was not fit to fulfill his duties on March 16 as an example of the arbitrary nature of any new Resolution.

Voices from the public were heard on both sides of the issue. Some were emotional responses of residents from 30 or more years who are just recently facing poor drainage and flooding situations. Rather, the present divide is more about pushing for growth in Ascension versus slowing down to figure out what should be done first.

The council has spoken for months about new subdivisions building up the land and causing older, low-lying neighborhoods to flood. And the process of fixing the situation is moving slower than anyone wants to hear.

Furthermore, Lawler motioned to hold the vote on the Resolution for three months, or until a Floodplain Management Plan (FMP) was introduced. However, DPW Director Bill Roux informed the council that it would be at least three weeks before an engineering firm would presumably be chosen. Roux added that it could be the end of the year before said firm would come up with any tangible FMP.

Councilman Satterlee said that the parish should not fear developers somehow losing interest in building small or large subdivisions here.

"I support 'let's take a deep breath,'" Satterlee said. "I don't think it's going to run a whole bunch of people off . . . There's nothing wrong with slowing growth right now while we try to figure this out, so at least the quality of life of the people that are here is not negatively impacted."

In the meantime, it is tough to say what happens regarding new development. Right now it is anyone's guess as to what is lawful at least, for building up land for development. One resident blasted the council for not yet having the answers.

"This is very painful to listen to and watch," she said. "As leaders, I think it's very important that we understand the things that we bring before this council for votes and consideration, whether it's a Resolution or an ordinance for law. That there is due diligence that is necessary to go into it. I think I probably did more studying for today about the ordinance and had my copy, than Councilman Lawler did."

The council continues to fail to show much solidarity on critical issues. They did manage, however, to vote to rename the Donaldsonville Jail after the late former Sheriff Charles "Chalou" Trepagnier.