Attempt to extend Ascension Parish moratorium on new developments to May 31 fails

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Ascension Parish Council Chair John Cagnolatti's request to introduce an ordinance extending the moratorium on new developments to May 31 failed due to a lone dissenting vote.

Early in the March 17 meeting in Gonzales, District 4's Corey Orgeron was the only member to vote against the move in a roll call. Joel Robert, who was in attendance but had not yet arrived, did not vote.

Cagnolatti pointed out a unanimous vote was necessary to add the item to the agenda.

District 4's Corey Orgeron gestures while speaking during the Ascension Parish Council meeting held March 3 at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

The current nine-month moratorium, which often led to tense moments of controversy last year, is set to expire April 17.

In June 2021, an hours-long meeting that ended close to midnight resulted in the council voting to approve the moratorium. 

At the time, the issue drew numerous residents frustrated by flooding and traffic, as well as individuals affiliated with the building industry. About 40 people signed up to speak during the public hearing.

Ascension Parish President Clint Cointment expressed his frustration with the council’s decision at the time, as he originally asked for a 12-month moratorium.

Cagnolatti said the item may come up for consideration at the next council meeting.

During the week, Cointment held three public information meetings to present proposed changes to the parish's Unified Land Development Code. The meetings were spread throughout the parish, as dates were set in Prairieville, Gonzales, and Donaldsonville.

Ascension Parish Council members Alvin "Coach" Thomas and Joel Robert are shown prior to the March 3 meeting at the courthouse in Donaldsonville.

In other matters:

Council members voted to decrease the disconnect fee from $42 to $20 in the Ascension Consolidated Utilties District #1 and Parish Utilities of Ascension schedule of fees.

Also, a revision to the personnel policy manual to add a performance evaluation program passed.

The council later entered executive session to discuss power utility DEMCO. Council members have said they believe DEMCO is in violation of parish ordinances.

Jean-Paul Robert, in-house counsel for Ascension Parish government, told the council at the March 3 meeting in Donaldsonville that he had exhausted negotiations and recommended taking legal action.

Parish officials contend the power company, which serves parts of the Ascension Parish area, has caused delays for some road projects ongoing through the Move Ascension program.

The dispute includes the relocation of power lines and infrastructure where work has been planned.

At the beginning of the meeting, three proclamations were made:

  • National Library Week in Ascension Parish from April 3 to 9.
  • National Disabilities Month in Ascension Parish for the month of March.
  • Flood Awareness Month in Ascension Parish for the month of March.