GONZALES — An attorney for the city of Gonzales told a resident Monday that it was inappropriate for opponents of the Emerson Process Management rezoning issue to continue showing up at City Council meetings and pelting council members and Mayor Barney Arceneaux with questions.
Earlier this year, the council voted to rezone 18 acres of land on West Orice Roth Road from residential to commercial so that Emerson could build a regional campus.
Ryland Percy, the city’s attorney, said that because several residents have filed a lawsuit to overturn the council’s rezoning decision, he has recommended Arceneaux and council members not speak on the subject.
“I’ve told them they cannot respond,” Ryland said.
Melvin Irvin Jr., a former state representative who opposed the rezoning, presented the council with a petition signed by 67 residents of the Kennedy Heights subdivision, which is near the proposed Emerson campus, asking the council to reconsider its rezoning action.
“While we support the concept of Emerson and the jobs it may bring, we are concerned that there is a developing pattern by the city of placing industrial and commercial buildings in minority residential communities,” the petition reads. “This is extremely disheartening in the Emerson matter since there are areas already zoned to accommodate Emerson.”
Irvin is not one of the six residents named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Ryland said he had spoken with the plaintiffs’ attorney, Paul Aucoin, and that the lawsuit was “moving forward.” Since the residents chose to pursue legal action, Ryland said, the issue should not be discussed at council meetings, but rather in a courtroom.
Other items discussed during the meeting included:
BOWLING ALLEY OPENING: Malco Theatres Inc.’s new bowling alley and entertainment center in the old Wal-Mart building on Airline Highway could be open by Dec. 19, said Rick Bourgeois, Malco’s senior vice president.
Bourgeois said Malco is investing about $7 million in the facility in the Bayou Plaza retail center and considering another $10 million to $15 million for a movie theater. A job fair will be held Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 to hire about 70 people, he said.
The council also introduced an ordinance creating the Northeast Gonzales Economic Development District, which would freeze the state’s real estate property taxes on the facility for five years and rebate between $70,000 and $90,000 to Malco for construction and equipment, City Clerk Clay Stafford said. The final vote will be Nov. 12.