GONZALES — The City of Gonzales and the Ascension Parish government are working together so the city can gain clear title to an undeveloped lot on Silverleaf Street, removing a possible obstacle to a federal buyout of property owners on the street who suffer repeated flooding.

A vacant lot on Silverleaf came into the hands of the parish and the city in the summer of 2011 after the property owner failed to pay property taxes, Gonzales City Attorney Erin Lanoux said this week.

Lanoux presented the City Council with an agreement with the parish in which the city would acquire ownership of the lot and, after receiving the lot's fair market value through the federal buyout program, would provide funds to the parish for any property taxes still owed the parish, as well as split with the parish any net proceeds left. 

The city sought the agreement with the parish for the vacant Silverleaf lot "so it won't hold up those other tracts" in a federal buyout program, Lanoux said at Monday's council meeting. 

The city is assisting more than 40 property owners on Silverleaf in the process of receiving a federal buyout of their properties in a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would buy the homes at their preflood appraised value, then demolish them and restore the property to wetlands.

The Gonzales City Council will vote on the proposed agreement with the parish at its next meeting on Feb. 26.

Also at Monday's meeting, several residents of the Pecan Grove subdivision near La. 30 spoke against the possibility of a rumored apartment complex coming to the area.

Property owned by Grady Melancon on the north side of La. 30, east of La. 44, was recently subdivided to allow for the construction of a dollar store. 

The matter came before the Gonzales Planning and Zoning Commission at its Feb. 5 meeting. The commission approved the division of Melancon's property, which is zoned retail commercial.

Bonnie Braud, a resident of the Pecan Grove subdivision for more than 30 years, said she is unhappy about the dollar store coming to the area and had heard that remaining property owned by Melancon near her subdivision would possibly become the site of apartments.

"Someone needs to ask the property owner exactly what his plans are in the future," Braud said.

Mayor Barney Arceneaux said the city had not heard of any plans for an apartment complex and that such a development would require rezoning.

Councilman Tyler Turner said, "I have complete confidence in our Planning and Zoning Commission that they would be against rezoning" for apartments there.  

Follow Ellyn Couvillion on Twitter, @EllynCouvillion.