GONZALES — Six residents said Monday night they are filing suit against city officials over the rezoning of a parcel of land on West Orice Roth Road that would allow a Fortune 500 company to locate a regional commercial campus in the city.
Tyrone Smith, a Gonzales resident who is one of the six plaintiffs and has acted as the spokesperson for residents opposing the rezoning, presented Mayor Barney Arceneaux and members of the Gonzales City Council with a copy of the lawsuit being filed under their names on Monday.
Smith said he wasn’t sure if the suit actually had been filed yet.
“We are going to court to compel you and your council to follow the city of Gonzales ordinances to the letter,” Smith told Arceneaux.
The City Council, behind the unanimous recommendation from the city’s Zoning Commission, voted on June 25 to rezone 18 acres on West Orice Roth from residential to C-2 commercial.
The rezoning was sought by Emerson Process Management, a St. Louis company that refurbishes and remanufactures valves for industrial plants.
The rezoning would allow the company to build a $10 million regional campus and to expand and consolidate its Ascension Parish operations.
Smith has tried to convince the council to reverse itself on the rezoning.
Smith and fellow Gonzales residents Laverne Deal, Darrell Irvin, Lloyd Irvin, Roosevelt Mackyeon and Frank Smith Jr. are listed as plaintiffs in the suit, which was to be filed in 23rd Judicial District Court. Arceneaux, the Gonzales City Council and the Zoning Commission are listed as the defendants.
Ryland Percy, the city’s attorney, said he wasn’t sure if the suit had been filed, adding Monday night’s meeting was the first time he’d seen it. Arceneaux said he wouldn’t comment until the suit became official.
“Until we actually get it, I’m not going to comment,” the mayor said.
Attempts to reach Vacherie attorney Paul Aucoin, who is listed as the plaintiffs’ attorney, were unsuccessful on Monday.
The four-page suit outlines allegations that the defendants failed to follow “the prescribed rules, procedures and applicable city ordinances or codes” pertaining to the rezoning and asks that the court overthrow the council’s vote.
“The errors of all of the defendants, individually and collectively, in the zoning change process as set forth above, renders the zoning change … null and void and the zoning must revert back to residential until proper rules, procedures and ordinances are complied with,” the suit reads.
Smith told the council members that they “ignored the laws” of the city and in doing so committed an “injustice to all the citizens of Gonzales.” He again called for Arceneaux to recall or veto the rezoning.
“I told you already, Tyrone, the vote was passed,” Arceneaux responded.