Donaldsonville school gets consent to construct new building

City councilmen voted Tuesday to let Ascension Catholic Diocesan Regional School proceed with construction of a new multi-purpose building, after an initial go-ahead by a council commission was voided.

The school is looking to construct a 4,200-square-foot building that would host educational programs, after-school care and assemblies, school business manager Troy LeBoeuf told the council.

In discussion of appeals made by three members of the community in two separate letters, City Attorney Chuck Long gave his opinion that the city’s Historic District Commission acted out of order in voting to approve the building.

Meeting minutes showed that only three members of the seven-member commission were present at the May 7 meeting where the building was approved.

In accordance with Open Meetings Law, a majority of any government-created legislative body must be present to vote on a matter, Long said.

The council voided the commission’s original ruling on these grounds, prior to hearing cases for and against the new development.

The school, which includes two campuses and has an enrollment of 540 students, sits along St. Vincent Street in the city’s historical district.

Roy Quezaire and Rick Bergeron, who both live near the school on Opelousas Street, claimed the new building would not meet historic district requirements and would cause a decline in existing property values, among other issues.

Stanley Francis, who also appealed the decision, argued that ordinances were not followed and that members of both the commission and council were “too close to the project.”

“This group is tough on regulars, but easy on friends,” he said.

LeBoeuf said the building would not be used for sporting events. He added that the school would include a facade of stucco and Hardiplank over the planned metal walls to meet district standards.

The 4-0 vote came with one abstention, as Councilman Charles Brown Sr. said he wanted more information on the matter before voting.

Council Chairman Raymond Aucoin said that the school had met all other legal requirements for construction.