East Ascension Drainage discusses municipality standards, Sorrento mayor felt blindsided by proposal

Michael Tortorich
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Sorrento Mayor Chris Guidry told members of the East Ascension Drainage Board he felt blindsided by a proposal to have drainage standards for eastbank municipalities that at least meet parish standards, under possibility of cessation of work if not met.

"In my opinion, to get blindsided with something like this, it's really disturbing," Guidry said during the May 9 meeting in Gonzales, which was broadcast by Ascension21.

As the agenda item was introduced, Guidry said he had no understanding on the reasoning behind the standards.

"I can take my standards and point out three, four, five things where my standards are stronger than your standards," he said.

Aaron Lawler, who filled in as chair in the absence of Chase Melancon, pointed out the item was only up for discussion.

Sorrento Mayor Chris Guidry speaks during the East Ascension Drainage meeting in Gonzales on May 9.

Guidry followed by saying his town and the City of Gonzales had no communication with the parish on the matter, though John Cagnolatti, whose district includes Gonzales, said there had been communication with both the Gonzales mayor and the city engineer.

"Their response was, 'We don't have a problem with that. We follow the parish standards,'" Cagnolatti said.

"There's basically a threat on this piece of paper that if you don't do it, we won't do any work there," Guidry said. "That's what cessation means. Cessation of drainage work if we don't adopt your drainage standards. That's exactly what it means."

Lawler said there is potential for developers to use annexation into a municipality to avoid more stringent parish standards.

"This is about having discussion and getting together and doing that because the last thing any of us want is to be in a situation where developers have found a loophole and are requesting annexation of their properties so they don't have to meet our standards," Lawler said.

He went on to compare the parish's waterways to the three-lane expansion of Interstate 10 in the Prairieville area.

"You know what happens when it gets bottlenecked when it's two lanes, it backs up. We want to make sure its three-laned through the entire parish," Lawler said.

He added that the ultimate goal is to have the same standards throughout the parish.

Guidry pointed out the town and the parish administration have been working well together.

"The town is working with the parish. The town is expending funds just like the parish is expending funds. Not one time in this entire deal has anyone come to me and said, 'I think you're doing it wrong.' Not one time," Guidry said.

"To put it on paper instead of us sitting down to have an agreement is a little bit shocking to me, to say the least," Guidry added.

The board ultimately decided to table the matter.