NEW ROADS — A Pointe Coupee Parish developer and a police juror exchanged heated words Tuesday night as the Police Jury was forced to renege on a variance the developer was hoping to secure for a subdivision he has under construction.
Luke Grezaffi on Tuesday threatened to sue Juror Justin Cox if the police juror ever questioned his integrity again.
Cox had accused Grezaffi of trying to circumvent the parish’s process of approving variances by having jury President Melanie Bueche persuade the jury at its July 28 meeting to grant the variance without first going through the parish’s Planning Commission.
Cox said Grezaffi told Bueche and other parish officials that he already had spoken with the Planning Commission’s chairman, Johnny Ewing, about the variance and said Ewing didn’t have a problem with it.
But Grezaffi denied Cox’s accusation, which touched off the heated exchange between the two men.
“Mr. Ewing told me he didn’t have a problem with it,” Grezaffi said to Cox. “He didn’t say it was voted up or down. I never one time mentioned any kind of verbal approval from him.
“You call me a liar again, you’re going to hear from my lawyer,” Grezaffi said.
Grezaffi is trying to gain legal authority to ignore the parish’s 2007 ordinance requiring developers to install community sewer systems for residential developments containing more than nine lots.
Grezaffi is trying to build a 12-lot subdivision in Lakeland at the corner of La. 1 and Lorio Dairy Road.
“We should have never voted on this at our last meeting,” Cox said as the Police Jury mulled over recommendations from the Planning Committee’s Aug. 20 meeting.
According to minutes from that meeting, the Planning Commission took no action on Grezaffi’s variance request because the Police Jury already had granted it at its July 28 meeting.
“Why put this before the jury knowing something like this hadn’t been done before and it’s against our ordinance?” Cox asked Bueche. “That’s why people have a lack of trust in government. Because everyone is not treated the same.”
Bueche said she had gotten an erroneous legal opinion from one legal adviser before the jury’s July 28 meeting, giving her the OK to present the variance request to the full jury for approval.
Bueche said Tuesday night that another legal adviser informed her before this meeting that the Planning Commission would have to act on the request first before the Police Jury could make the final decision — per the parish’s policy.
“It’s still in limbo, in other words, with no action from the Planning Commission,” she said.
Juror Cornell Dukes came to Grezaffi’s defense, criticizing Cox for unnecessarily attacking the developer.
“We have to stop fighting developers when they come here about oversights,” Dukes said. “It shouldn’t be our role to scold developers.”
Cox, in rebuttal, said: “There’s nothing wrong with following the rules. To sit here and dismiss this because we don’t want to attack a developer? Everyone needs to be treated the same.”
Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.