Highlights from Gonzales City Council meeting

Halen Doughty
Gonzales City Council

The Gonzales City Council mourns the loss of long-time Planning and Zoning Commissioner Terry Richey, who passed away on Saturday. Mayor Barney Arceneaux called Richey a great guy and dedicated public servant, saying he will be greatly missed both on the commission and in the community. Planning and Zoning Chairman Frank Cagnolatti said the commission won’t be the same without him and asked for continued prayers for Richey’s family.

After a moment of silence for the commissioner, the Council moved on to the business of the evening. The first item was approving a permit for Christ Healing Church to hold a drug abuse awareness event in Jambalaya Park. The family-friendly event, called Celebrate Freedom, will feature live music, food, face painting, and information on faith-based recovery. It is entirely free and open to the public on Saturday, March 24 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Jambalaya Park on Cornerview in Gonzales.

The Council then introduced an ordinance to prevent Gonzales residents from parking vehicles in their yards. The measure comes after several complaints were filed about a residence in the city. City Clerk Scot Byrd said parking multiple cars in a front yard detracts from the character of the neighborhood, which is why the council took up the issue.

The goal [of this ordinance] is to maintain the character and integrity of the neighborhood so as to protect everybody’s property value and living space,” said Byrd. “So in essence, what this ordinance does is require that people park their vehicles on a parking surface and not all over the yard.”

If the ordinance is adopted and residents choose to disobey it, they could be fined up to $500. A final vote on the measure will be taken at the next meeting in three weeks.

The Council introduced another ordinance that would alter the city’s building elevation standards. The proposal would raise the elevation standard to one foot above base flood elevation. Byrd said the idea behind this ordinance is that the cost of elevating a home by one foot would be less than homeowners would pay in flood insurance over time if their home was at base flood elevation. He pointed out that a home at base flood elevation will see premiums at $300 more a year forever. City Engineer Jackie Baumann noted that surrounding parishes have already adopted similar standards following the flood in 2016. Final vote on the ordinance will be taken in three weeks.

The Council approved a budget increase for the sewer relocation project along LA 44 as part of the widening project already underway. Baumann noted the capital outlay budget is in good standing, and the City has worked with both the parish and the developer to get the relocation done in a timely and cost-effective manner. She said the main sewer line is in the right of way of the widened road, which is why the line on the right side of the road must be moved.

In the engineering report, Baumann noted the Civic Center restoration project is coming along. The Council approved change orders to get a new roof installed on the center, which will not be covered by FEMA. Some repairs are being done on the city’s dime because the demolition following the flood exposed many issues with the building that city officials might not otherwise have found. Baumann said replacing parts of the flood wall, repairing some electrical issues, and installing a new roof are some projects the city will cover.

Baumann added with construction already underway on the building, it’s a great opportunity to make these repairs so the newly restored Civic Center will be in the best possible condition once repairs are completed. She said contractors are now in the “close up” phase of the restoration and should wrap up soon.

Baumann said she had a meeting with the National Park Service about the recreation trail plan. She said the master plan comprised of recommendations from both the NPS and input from the public will be presented at one of the council meetings in March.

Follow Halen on Twitter: @LikeVanHalen