BY AARON E. LOONEY
Special to The Advocate
July 26, 2012
DONALDSONVILLE — City Councilmen have postponed taking action on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment allowing government structures to be built on land designated as Open Space.
According to the proposal, the city would amend its Open Space designation to allow construction of public buildings and eliminate a 30-foot buffer zone requirement for such situations.
The issue relates to discussions between the city and Ascension Parish government to build along the outer edge of the South Louisiana State Fairgrounds on La. 3089, which the parish owns.
The site could possibly house both parish public works offices for the west bank as well as a planned new Donaldsonville Fire Department station.
City Attorney Chuck Long said during Tuesday’s council meeting that Open Space zoning currently allows for public recreation-based structures, such as ballfields and boat landings.
Long said he altered the submitted proposal, removing language requiring that the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission approve the type of structure in such situations.
“It’s not the commission’s function to do that,” Long said. “Developers have to follow the building code, not the personal preference of the commission.”
Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. said he suggested the language so that the city could have better oversight over what structures are built.
Long said the city’s zoning ordinances already serve that purpose in a fair and indiscriminate manner.
Long added that the proposed change could open the door for owners of other such property to build without city approval.
Before the council tabled the matter, Long suggested that it instead make the change only for the proposed La. 3089 site.
Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said the matter would be revisited during the council’s Aug. 6 Committee of the Whole meeting.
In other business, the council addressed:
DISREPAIR ISSUES: The council discussed the need for more stern action regarding properties in a state of disrepair.
Councilman Emile Spano expressed frustration with property owners in his district that continuously lapse in making requested repairs or cleanup efforts.
“We’re giving them 60 or 90 days to fix the problems, and then we’re losing them,” Spano said.
Long said that the council’s lack of strict enforcement in such cases has led to a disrespect of its process.
“They come back in 60 days, you say it’s good progress, then give them another 30 days,” Long said. “There’s no sense of urgency.”
Spano, whose district takes in the city’s historic district, said he faces an additional step with the city’s Historic District Commission requiring review of repairs or demolition within its boundaries.
No official action was taken, but councilmen decided to follow the process more closely in the future.