Lafayette Parish President Joey Durel vetoes council’s apartment complex limit, but delivers it too late to count _lowres

Joey Durel

City-Parish President Joey Durel was too slow with a veto to block the council’s vote earlier this month to put new limits on apartment complexes in north Lafayette.

The City-Parish Council voted 6-3 on Oct. 6 to approve a proposal to prohibit all standalone apartment complexes along Louisiana Avenue between Willow Street and Interstate 10, except in areas zoned specifically for multifamily residential.

Durel penned a veto letter, arguing the ordinance discourages economic development, but did not send it to the council office until Oct. 19, outside the 10-day window the city-parish president is allowed to veto council actions.

“Just a simple misinterpretation on my part,” Durel said in an email late Tuesday.

Durel said he wrote his veto within the 10-day deadline but did not actually deliver it to the council office with his explanation until a few days later, holding it over to allow more time for discussion.

The missed deadline was confirmed in an email City-Parish Attorney Mike Hebert sent to Durel and City-Parish Council Clerk Veronica Williams the day the veto letter was received.

Unless one of the six council members who supported Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux’s ordinance would have changed their mind, the veto would have had no impact, because six votes is enough to override it.

In pushing the restrictions on apartments, Boudreaux argued large complexes eat up real estate that could be used for better retail offerings and other quality developments.

The councilman also said big apartment complexes tend to attract lower-end retail.

“The housing market drives the retail audience. That’s why we get Dollar General,” he said at the time.

The prohibition was opposed by a developer with plans for a 288-unit complex on Louisiana Avenue between Alexander Street and I-10.

Kentucky-based LDG Development had the property under contract and had negotiated financing for a $40 million project.

Durel wrote in his veto message that he believes fears of the impact of large apartment complexes in the area were “unfounded and exaggerated.”

“People have purchased property for investment purposes, with confidence that all parts of Lafayette would be good for a return on that investment,” Durel wrote. “We cannot continue to change rules mid-stream, which discourages investment.”