GONZALES — The Ascension Parish Council delayed action Thursday on two proposed changes to toughen what builders must do to control rainfall runoff.
The council backed both delays on 9-0 votes after builder Billy Aguillard complained he was not able to find the proposed changes online in advance, raised concerns on each and asked for more time to study them.
Two other changes to the drainage ordinance were adopted, 9-0, however, and aligned the parish’s rules with state and federal laws. Aguillard did not object to those changes.
Councilman Adrian Thompson was absent on each vote. Council Chairman Pat Bell does not vote unless to break a tie. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency audit this spring prompted the council to take a closer look at its drainage ordinance, Ben Laurie, parish chief engineer, said.
The audit found the parish does not have a required storm water management plan. The plans are designed to improve water quality by laying out the parish’s controls on pollution that runs off into streams and bayous.
Aguillard’s concerns were focused on proposed changes to parish storm water detention rules.
The parish now calls for no net increase in runoff from a site after construction is finished. To achieve that level, builders often must create ponds to hold and slow the release of rainfall into the drainage system.
One proposed change would eliminate waivers to parish storm water detention rules.
The other would have required construction on the upper sections of major streams to reduce runoff from a finished project by 10 percent from existing levels.
With the waiver and the 10 percent reduction, Aguillard, owner of BJM Construction LLC, explained that each of the changes would prevent “mom and pop” businesses from opening in the parish.
He said a 10 percent decrease is huge for small-scale commercial projects. “They won’t be able to do it,” Aguillard said.
Councilman Kent Schexnaydre noted Aguillard has worked with parish government in the past few years to make parish subdivision regulations more stringent.
Schexnaydre asked for time to meet with people actually involved in this work and make sure the proposed changes do not keep small businesses from opening.