GONZALES — At its first meeting of the new year, with two new interim council members on board, the Gonzales City Council on Monday took steps to undo a number of controversial measures passed last year by a 3-2 split that no longer exists.
In particular, the council introduced four items that will be voted on at its next meeting, on Jan. 26:
To restore the original budgets requested by the Fire Department, $447,500, and Police Department, $437,261. Both budgets had been cut by more than $100,000 each.
To budget the original funding for the Ascension Economic Development Corp. at $100,000 instead of the $50,000 the prior council approved.
To consider the request of Alvin Turner Jr., a 23rd Judicial District Court judge, to rezone a 28-acre tract from a larger lot size to a smaller lot size.
To consider the request by the family of the late Thomas Keating to rezone a 25-acre tract from commercial retail to the next level of commercial zoning, with a special-use permit to build a warehouse on the tract.
Cuts to the city’s budgets and denial of the two rezoning requests were approved by the council last year by 3-2 votes by members Terance Irvin, Gary Lacombe, who has since resigned, and Timothy Vessel, who later was recalled from office.
The rejection of the rezoning requests by the three councilmen resulted in two lawsuits against the city that are still pending.
At Monday’s meeting, Irvin asked why the council was introducing the two rezoning issues.
“In neither of these is the council doing this to avoid a lawsuit,” City Attorney Ryland Percy said. “This is not being done out of negotiations with anyone. It’s being done to follow the original recommendations of Planning and Zoning.”
The Gonzales Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended the city approve the rezoning requests made by Turner and by the Keating family.
After the meeting, Irvin said he is in full support of the budget amendments, if the council moves to adopt them at its next meeting, but he urged the council to “save for the future” and “level off spending.”
Before the City Council meeting, interim council members Barbara Duhe, who replaces Vessel, and David Guitreau, who replaces Lacombe, were administered the oath of office by Judge Turner.
They will serve on the council until a special election on March 28, when voters will choose two new council members to serve out the two vacant terms that end on Dec. 31, 2016.