LIVINGSTON — Plans for a proposed gravel pit in Watson were put on hold for a month after residents complained they had not had a chance to review the company’s latest site drawings.
The Livingston Parish Planning Commission, in a split decision Wednesday night, delayed until May a vote on Southern Aggregates’ preliminary site plan for a 238-acre gravel mining operation next to Oak Hills Subdivision.
Four of the seven commissioners voted to defer the matter, saying they had not had enough time to review the latest drawings, which were stamped received the day before the meeting.
Southern Aggregates Vice President and General Manager Kevin Black said nothing significant had changed from the drawings the company submitted a week earlier. Black objected to the delay, noting that several commissioners had said, before the vote, that the project met all parish codes and that it was the commission’s obligation to approve the plan.
Parish Councilman Jim Norred, who lives in Oak Hills, and some of his neighbors and constituents asked the commission to delay approval until the state Department of Environmental Quality’s public comment period on a water quality permit for the project concludes later this month.
But planning commission Chairman Bob Scivique explained that the parish body and state agency operate independently of each another. The project will have to receive approval from all interested government agencies before mining operations begin, Scivique said, but the parish cannot hold up its approval process to wait for the outcome of the state permitting process.
Scivique also noted that the aggregate company is not required to perform impact studies and other detailed analyses at this preliminary planning stage. Those details are handled prior to the commission granting final approval for the operation.
Some of the residents also expressed concern that the gravel pit plans might have caused the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rezone certain parts of the neighborhood as more flood-prone. Project engineers assured them, however, that the pit plans had no effect on the parish’s most recent flood insurance rate maps, which went into effect in 2012.
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