Ascension Parish Council adopts development code ordinances

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

While facing ongoing drainage and traffic challenges, the Ascension Parish Council approved revisions to the land development code during a special meeting held April 27 in Gonzales.

The council worked on the changes amid the moratorium on new developments in Ascension Parish, which excluded the three municipalities of Donaldsonville, Gonzales, and Sorrento, and rural areas on the west side.

The development halt is set to end May 31 following an extension to the original nine-month moratorium.

It was put into place June 17 last year during a Gonzales meeting where some citizens voiced frustration with traffic and flooding in the fast-growing areas on the parish's east side. At one point, groups organized recall efforts for six council members. All of the recalls ultimately failed by early 2022.

Members of the Ascension Parish Council are shown during the March 3 meeting held at the Donaldsonville courthouse. Shown from left are Teri Casso, Chase Melancon, Aaron Lawler, Dal Waguespack, and Michael Mason.

Kendig Keast Collaborative, an urban planning consultancy based in Sugar Land, Texas, has assisted the council over recent months on the code revisions. Bret C. Keast, CEO and owner, met with council members virtually as the group discussed the items.

The Traffic Impact Analysis was the only section struck during the meeting, as council members agreed to bring it back for an introduction May 5. It would be voted on May 19, ahead of the moratorium's expiration.

Chair John Cagnolatti said at the conclusion of the meeting that the council's actions represented a positive first step.

"I can't thank enough the administration, the staff, and all of the council members who engaged and got actively involved in this process," he said. "We're moving forward and that's what we need to do. We can't slow down. We can take a break, but we can't stop. I appreciate everyone's input and cooperation and respect for one another. It's critical in us moving forward. That'll get us a long way through the process."