GONZALES — The Gonzales City Council on Monday moved closer to bringing to another vote two controversial zoning issues that sparked two lawsuits against the city last year.
The council moved to introduce the zoning issues for a vote at its next council meeting, on Feb. 23.
At that meeting, the council will be voting on whether to approve the request that Alvin Turner Jr. made last year to rezone a 28-acre undeveloped piece of property he owned to a smaller lot size.
When his request was denied last year, Turner, a state district court judge, sued the city. He has since sold the property but remains a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
The City Council will also be looking again at the request made last year by the Keating family to rezone a 25-acre piece of property from a retail commercial zoning to the next level of commercial zoning, which includes both retail and wholesale, with a special-use permit for a warehouse business.
The rejection of that rezoning request also resulted in a lawsuit against the city.
The rejection of both rezoning requests last year were carried in 3-2 votes by Councilman Terance Irvin and then-councilmen Gary Lacombe, who later resigned, and Timothy Vessel, who was recalled by voters in December.
During Monday’s council meeting, resident Tyrone Smith criticized the council for not discussing the suit that Turner brought against the city and urged council members to be fully informed on the issue before voting at the next meeting on the property.
In the matter of the Keating property, Baton Rouge attorney Steven Duplechain, representing Keating family members, said a zoning of commercial beyond retail is appropriate for the property, which is situated on South Burnside, across the street from other property zoned industrial and next to a city sewer plant.
Irvin asked Duplechain if the Keating family is still suing the city.
Duplechain said the litigation is still in place but that the lawsuit and the city’s reconsideration of the rezoning request are “unlinked.”
Irvin said that both rezoning requests should be returned to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Mayor Barney Arceneaux said, however, that the Planning and Zoning Commission had unanimously approved the rezoning requests last year, that there is no court order regarding either property and that the City Council has the right, by law, to bring the matters to the table again.