GONZALES — The Ascension Parish Council chose not to meet Thursday evening to try to override Parish President Clint Cointment's first veto, which blocked a legal settlement with a Prairieville family seeking to sell their land for a new housing development that stirred concerns about traffic.

Parish officials announced Thursday that the council session, which the home rule charter required Cointment to call after his veto Friday, was canceled. The family, the Delaunes, had withdrawn their settlement offer in the wake of the president's decision.

"It's a moot point," Teri Casso, the council chairwoman, explained Thursday morning.

Casso said she was contacted late Wednesday afternoon about the withdrawn offer. 

Since March 2020, the Delaune family has been trying to win approval of the 237-home Delaune Estates subdivision for 86 acres of pasture that the family has owned for nearly 100 years off La. 73. But they've been unable to get approval form parish government because of traffic concerns and strong public backlash.

In September, the Delaunes sued the parish, including Cointment personally, in state court, claiming the decision cost them a $7 million sale. The project was known as Antebellum Pointe while it was going through the initial review process last year.

The settlement would have ended the lawsuit and allowed the subdivision to go forward, but with 10 fewer houses.

Even before the Delaune family's withdrawal of the settlement Wednesday, Casso had aired skepticism about having the override meeting because the council was only able to muster six votes out of all 11 members to support the deal. 

The council needs eight votes, or a two-thirds majority, to override the veto. Casso said those who supported the settlement, including herself, didn't have the additional votes.

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The Delaune family's attorney cited a similar reason for their decision to withdraw its settlement offer.

"It seemed obvious to us that it is unlikely there would be eight votes, and we don't see any reason to have everyone involved in an exercise of futility," Jeffrey Schoen said Thursday.

But he also said that his clients' decision didn't mean they were  unwilling to work with the parish and the public in the future. Schoen declined to say what the Delaunes' next step would be.

"At this point, we are just reviewing all of our options," he said.

The lawsuit remains pending. Some council members who opposed the settlement and had been concerned about the subdivision's traffic impacts along La. 73 and at the La. 73/La. 621/I-10 interchange have suggested the Delaunes resubmit their plan to the Planning Commission.

The family came to the parish with the settlement offer after putting together a new traffic analysis that takes into account the actual impact of the recently finished Interstate-10 widening, council members have said.

The $72 million state project continued a third lane on each side of I-10 from Highland Road to the Prairieville exit but was not completed when the neighborhood was first denied in March 2020.

The interchange had been a notorious area of morning and evening congestion for years.

The new traffic analysis also relied on as yet not done traffic light changes at La. 73 and White Road and at the I-10 interchange to mitigate traffic impact.


Email David J. Mitchell at dmitchell@theadvocate.com

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter, @NewsieDave.