ST. FRANCISVILLE — A spirited discussion on whether to approve a preliminary plan for a proposed subdivision dominated Monday’s West Feliciana Parish Council meeting with the council ultimately voting 4-3 to return the issue to the parish Planning and Zoning Board.
The board had unanimously recommended the council approve the preliminary plan for Parkview Estates, a proposed 27-lot subdivision on 38 acres along La. 966, at a special meeting Nov. 12.
However, during and after a public hearing Monday, questions about potential waivers, individual sewer treatment units proposed for the development, the size of buffer areas and lot frontage and even aesthetic appeal were among the issues raised by members of the audience and echoed by several of the council members.
Council members Lea Williams, John Kean, Melvin Young and Ricky Lambert voted to send the matter back to the Planning and Zoning Board while Otis Wilson, Mel Percy and Heather Howle voted against the move.
Courtney Tucker, co-owner of the proposed subdivision, and Greg Ferris, engineer in charge of developing the subdivison, told the council the lots will average 1.1 acres and the minimum house size will be 2,500 square feet. The development will include a number of amenities such as two ponds, 5 acres of common area and walking trails.
“This is a quality development for this area,” Ferris said. “It will enhance the beauty of this area.”
“We want to be good neighbors and good residents of this parish,” said Tucker, who plans to live in the development with her family.
Twenty members of Monday’s audience, which numbered more than 60 people, spoke up during the public hearing with roughly half supporting the Parkview development and the other half opposing it.
John Godke, who lives in the Starhill area, opposed the planned development as it was presented and noted several inconsistencies in the documents.
“As a resident of Starhill, I know it’s an area targeted for growth,” Godke said. “Rules are rules and they should be followed. It’s the only way we can protect ourselves.”
Kim Maxwell spoke in favor of Tucker and the development.
“They have a right to do what they want as long as it meets the rules,” she said.
Julie Pilcher and Hallie Coreil, whose property is adjacent to the proposed development, said they’re not against the development, but they want the owners to be willing to compromise.
After the vote, parish President Kevin Couhig, a proponent of the development, said failure to approve the preliminary plan reinforced a message that West Feliciana does not want economic development.
“I’m proud to have neighbors that follow the rules, and I welcome you and I want you here,” Couhig said to Tucker.
In other business:
PAID LEGAL EXPENSES: The council voted to amend the operating budget for this fiscal year to add $200,000 to cover expenses incurred from the Lambert family’s lawsuit against the parish over the disputed riverfront property.
NEW JERUSALEM ESTATES: The council also voted unanimously to support the final phase one plan for New Jerusalem Estates on La. 965.
PUBLIC HEARINGS SET: The council also set a public hearing for Dec. 15 at 5:30 p.m. to consider several planning and zoning ordinances.
HOME RULE CHARTER: Dates were set for two public hearings for discussion of redistricting to four single and one at-large representative districts for the council as mandated by the Home Rule Charter. The council scheduled the special meetings for Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.
The council set a public hearing for Monday at 5:30 p.m. to consider amending the Home Rule Charter, including returning to a police jury form of government with seven representative jurors. A letter from Councilman Young was read aloud in which he stated his support to return to the police jury system.