Gonzales panel seeks new master plan

Gonzales - Citing an increasing gap between Zoning Commission recommendations and City Council actions, the Zoning Commission formally recommended Monday that the council hire a professional to create a new master plan for the city, hopefully to be completed this year.

“There is a disconnect between the Planning and Zoning Commission and members of the City Council,” said the commission’s co-chairman, Terry Richey, reading from a letter the commission will give to the City Council.

In the letter, the Zoning Commission cites an instance last year when the council voted against both the commission’s recommendations and the request of the landowners, the Keating family, for a zoning change for an approximately 25-acre site fronting La. 44.

While the petitioners sought a zoning of I-1, light industrial, for the property, the commission recommended rezoning the acreage from its C-1, light commercial zoning, to C-2, heavier commercial.

However, council member Terrance Irvin moved to keep the tract its original C-1 zoning. With the votes of council members Gary Lacombe and Tim Vessel, Irvin’s motion passed.

Irvin said at the time that keeping property zoned as light commercial would give the city more control and would mean more retail for the city and increase the city’s fund balance.

Instead, the letter from the Zoning Commission says, “The land owners of the Keating property have an undeveloped tract of land that will not be utilized.

“The land may not be developed for a long time and the city will have no benefit of taxes, and jobs will not be created,” Richey read.

“This will not make our fund balance grow,” he said.

“There are hundreds of acres of undeveloped C-1 property in the city of Gonzales,” Richey said.

“C-1 property does not give the city more control, especially undeveloped property,” he said.

In its letter, the Zoning Commission also included a description of the review process for amending the zoning or rezoning property.

According to that process, after a petitioner submits information and the Zoning Commission reviews the matter and makes a recommendation to the council, the “mayor and council have the option of rendering a final decision or making a request for additional information,” reads the commission’s letter in boldface.

If the council requires more information, the process begins over again.

The City Council first talked of revisiting the city’s Master Growth Plan, created in 1997, in November after it deferred action on whether or not to amend the plan to allow for a greater density of apartment units.

In other business, Jimmy Boyce III, of PHL Investments in Gonzales, presented a request for a zoning change from C-1 commercial to C-2 commercial for approximately 22 acres of a tract on South Burnside owned by the PriceCo company.

Boyce has an agreement with PriceCo to purchase five acres to build and lease a warehouse and distribution center to Crawford Electric, a subsidiary of the French company Sonepar.

Crawford Electric, an industrial electric supply company, expects sales at its Gonzales location, if built, to reach $50 million by 2015 and create 50 jobs, with average pay at $150,000, Boyce said.

A public hearing on Boyce’s zoning request will be held at the next Zoning Commission meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 3 at city hall.