Gonzales planning commission opposes vetoed I-10 study

The five-member Gonzales Planning and Zoning Commission went on record Monday night opposing a proposed $800,000 study of an Interstate 10 service road that last month prompted the mayor’s veto of major portions of the city’s budget for the new fiscal year.

Three councilmen — Gary Lacombe, Timothy Vessel and Terance Irvin — voted last month to amend the budget to provide funding for a study of an I-10 service road east of the interstate.

“I really see it as a waste of time,” Commissioner Ralph Deslatte Jr. said of the proposed study.

“The three people that want to push this project are turning people away from (developing) on roads we already have,” said Deslatte, referring to repeated instances by the three councilmen of voting against zoning requests for new businesses in the city.

Such a service road, he said, would benefit one family. According to a map from the Assessor’s Office, Councilman Irvin’s father, Melvin Irvin Jr., owns, either individually or through a business, several parcels of property along South Commerce Avenue east of the interstate.

“Where did they get the idea they can come up with any plan behind our back? They must go through us,” Commissioner Terry Richey said.

“Now’s the time to stand up and say we’re not going to accept this. We’re going to reject any I-10 service road study today,” Richey said.

“If they want to man up later and go through the proper channels and let citizens speak” about the idea, through public hearings, the commission would consider it as it does the other matters that come before it, Richey said.

Commissioner Eddie Williams pointed out that the city has recently contracted with the Center for Planning Excellence, also known as CPEX, a Baton Rouge nonprofit, to develop a new master land use plan for the city at a cost of $162,500, much less than the $800,000 proposed for the I-10 service road study.

Commission Chairman Frank Cagnolatti made a motion, seconded by Deslatte, that the commission reject the proposed study, saying the study should wait until the new master land use plan for the city is developed.

With the mayor’s veto on May 21 of the general fund and capital outlay budgets, the city entered its new fiscal year on Monday operating on 50 percent of last year’s budget until new budgets are approved.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux has said the city can operate on the reduced budget for about five months before major cuts would have to be made, unless new budgets are adopted.