BREAUX BRIDGE — The St. Martin Parish School Board voted 9-0 with one abstention Wednesday to purchase 7 acres off Rees Street to build a new administrative building and learning center, pending appraisals.

Board member Wanda Babin abstained because of employment at the company selling the land to the School Board.

The purchase price of the property, located on Corporate Boulevard off Rees Street near Interstate 10, is $440,000.

Funding will come from bond funds allocated for a new learning center. The property is being sold to the School Board by the local Pellerin Life Insurance Company. Frank Pellerin was on hand to address the board.

He said he was willing to sell the board 6.5 acres off the road for $400,000 in the growing part of the city because “the School Board was an integral part of the parish.”

Board member Floyd Knott said he would prefer to pay more for land in order to be on the main road and increase School Board visibility in the area.

“I’d like to spend an additional ($40,000) to insure we have a nice piece of property,” he said. “Otherwise, a new business we do not approve of could open in front of us.”

After Knott said he would like to pay the lesser of $440,000 or appraised value, Pellerin said the land would likely appraise for more than the agreed selling price.

“We discounted the (selling) offer for the School Board,” he said.

Board member Robert Hollier then explained why the board decided to buy this land rather than property near Breaux Bridge High School.

“We have received calls concerning the land near BBHS, but the amount of dirt work we would have to do at that location is unbelievable,” he said.

Board member Steve Fuselier clarified that under new Federal Emergency Management Agency guidelines, the property would have to be raised 5 feet before construction began.