Belle Savanne 11-12 sign #1.jpg

This sign informs passersby of an Ascension Parish government meeting on Belle Savanne subdivision on Thursday, Nov. 12. A later sign went up saying a separate meeting would be Wednesday, Nov. 18. Some residents say they were confused by the two dates.

In Ascension Parish, whenever local officials are expected to consider some kinds of land planning matters, parish government puts a public notice sign on the property up for discussion.

In addition to mailed notices to some landowners and legal ads, the signs are a way to let people know what's on tap and when.

But one resident of the Belle Savanne neighborhood in Dutchtown said Friday the parish's signage in the front of their subdivision led them to believe an important meeting on the last phase of the project would be Wednesday, Nov. 18.

In fact, it was Thursday night in Gonzales and many of those opposed to the change didn't show up as a result, the resident said.

"We have (an online) neighborhood forum, and everyone thought it was next week," said Nathan Marsh, 38, who lives in Belle Savanne and provided a picture of the sign with the Nov. 18 date.

During the meeting Thursday, the Parish Council agreed to allow Belle Savanne's developer to finish home construction in the 285-home subdivision and not have to wait on a connector road linking La. 73 and Bluff Road through the neighborhood. 

The La. 73 area, near Dutchtown High School, is a congested part of Ascension. A link between La. 73 and Bluff has been seen as a way to alleviate traffic. Belle Savanne empties onto La. 73 only. 

Nearly five years ago, the Planning Commission put the road condition on Belle Savanne. The developer was blocked from home sales on the last 96-home phase until a bid for the connector road had been awarded.

At the time, state highway and parish officials were weighing a connection through the then planned neighborhood.

Parish government is now looking at a different route to the north of Belle Savanne, and council members agreed with the developer that he can longer fulfill the requirement and buy the necessary land without the support of local government.

On Friday, a parish spokesman explained that there were two pending hearings on Belle Savanne, one on Thursday before the council on the road condition and another Nov. 18 before the Planning Commission about one of the neighborhood's detention ponds.

Martin McConnell, parish spokesman, explained that the sign for the Thursday, Nov. 12, council meeting went up first. When a parish worker went to put up the Nov. 18 sign later, the worker noticed that the sign for the Nov. 12 hand been taken down. 

"He used the same post to staple the new sign for the second public hearing," McConnell said. "Removal of signs in the field is not uncommon, and the Parish is not responsible if someone steals the signs since notification is also made by mail and by publication in the official journal."

McConnell providing pictures of the signs. Marsh said residents of Belle Savanne also noticed the changed dates on the signs -- first the 12th and then the 18th -- but they took that to mean the meeting on the road was Nov. 18.  

With light public attendance Thursday, the 10 Parish Council members present all agreed to overturn an August Planning Commission decision to uphold the old road condition. Only three council votes were needed to let the condition stand. 

A handful of Belle Savanne residents who did show up for the meeting said the builder told them the route would have been a private access and so one of them told the council they opposed the traffic from a public route through Belle Savanne.

But Marsh said the home builders promised him and others that the 285-home neighborhood would have a public route to Bluff Road. He didn't get to tell the council his view Thursday night, however.

"Myself and many at least a dozen members of our neighborhood were planning on attending next week, from the info on the required posting," Marsh said in an email. "This doesn’t seem right. Our voices were silenced."

Parish officials said complications in buying necessary land and a traffic analysis that suggested a route through the neighborhood wouldn't offer free flowing passage for traffic led officials to look for another route.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.