Gonzales panel OKs zoning change for Emerson

Emerson Process Management cleared another hurdle in its attempt to locate a regional headquarters.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday unanimously approved a zoning variance, from “traditional neighborhood development” to industrial, for Emerson to locate the $16 million headquarters at the Edenborne development near Interstate 10 and La. 44.

The approval did not come without opposition, however, as has been the case for almost every step of Emerson’s attempt to consolidate its Ascension Parish operations and create approximately 50 new jobs. Emerson had attempted to locate its expansion project on West Orice Roth Road last year, but a group of residents sued the city to block its rezoning efforts, so Emerson officials sought a different plan.

Several residents said they were concerned about the amount of traffic, particularly to Loosemore Road, which is expected to be tied into the Edenborne development.

“I am concerned about anything Edenborne would do to bring additional traffic onto Loosemore,” said Kathy Desadiere, who lives on Loosemore Road.

Edenborne co-developer Bill Clark assured residents that Emerson’s traffic will funnel directly to La. 44, and that Loosemore will only be an entrance/exit option for the residential portion of the development.

He said the roads are designed to discourage heavy trucks from using them.

Al Robert, who lives on La. 44 not far south of the Edenborne property, also spoke against the zoning change. He said he’s not against Emerson or the Edenborne development, but said they shouldn’t be partnered together. The traditional neighborhood development concept is a good one for the city, Robert said, so city officials shouldn’t make any changes to the zoning of the development.

“It’s OK to say no,” Robert said. “There’s lots of industrial properties in Gonzales.”

Emerson’s new $10 million, 105,000-square-foot headquarters will offer space for sales, engineering and service personnel.

Emerson helps its industrial customers automate production and processing for chemical, oil and gas, refining, pulp and paper, power, water
and wastewater treatment plants.

Terry Richey, who sits on the commission, said he was in favor of the project because of the positive impact it could have in the city. He said he has been concerned with so much backlash against a Fortune 500 company that is bringing more jobs to the city, and he said turning down the zoning request could drive Emerson out of the city, parish or even the state.

The commission’s recommendation next will go before the Gonzales City Council for approval at its next meeting on March 18.