Gonzales council approves zoning change for Crawford Electric location

The Gonzales City Council narrowly approved a zoning change for a new business on South Burnside Avenue, much to the delight of people attending the Monday meeting.

The audience in the packed council room, where several police officers attended to provide security, erupted in cheers and applause when the measure passed. The way is now clear for a Gonzales location of the electric supply company Crawford Electric, a subsidiary of the French company Sonepar.

Damain Kerek, a native of Sorrento, who will manage the new Crawford Electric location, said after the meeting that the zoning change is not only a plus for the company, “it’s a win for the city of Gonzales.”

Before the vote, several residents spoke in support of the requested commercial zoning change, which would allow for special-use permits for buildings such as warehouses.

“It’s time you folks stop being politicians and start serving the community,” retired Gonzales Police Chief Bill Landry said.

State Sen. Jody Amedee, R-Gonzales, also spoke in favor of the rezoning request.

“I think you need to find ways to vote for it instead of finding ways to vote against it,” he said.

One resident, Tyrone Smith, spoke in opposition, saying the parish should stick with the current land use master plan until a new one is in place. The city recently contracted with the Center for Planning Excellence of Baton Rouge to provide a needs assessment for the city, as it looks to adopt a new master plan in the future.

Councilman Terance Irvin, who in a previous meeting had recused himself from voting on the issue because a relative owns property in the area, asked if the matter could be delayed until he had an opinion from the Attorney General’s Office on whether he did need to recuse himself.

City Attorney Ryland Percy said because Irvin had recused himself from voting, he could not introduce a motion to delay the vote.

Councilmen Kenny Matassa and Kirk Boudreaux voted in favor of the zoning change. Councilman Timothy Vessel voted against, while Councilman Gary Lacombe abstained and Irvin was recused.

The rezoning request involves approximately 22 acres on South Burnside owned by the PriceCo company, a company of the Price LeBlanc family, of which 5 acres will be used to build and lease a warehouse and distribution center to Crawford Electric.

The electric supply company expects sales at the Gonzales location to reach $50 million by 2015 and create 50 jobs.

Kerek, with Crawford Electric, said the company hopes to be open here late this year or early in 2015.

Also Monday, with no discussion, the council approved a rezoning request, submitted in December by members of the Price LeBlanc family, from light commercial to heavy commercial, for a portion of another PriceCo tract on La. 44, for construction of a warehouse and distribution facility.

PriceCo representatives have said the company will build an electric supply warehouse there, making that the second such business in the area, along with Crawford Electric.