ST. GABRIEL — The City Council on Thursday voted to block another chemical company from possibly expanding its operation into the city limits.
By a unanimous vote, the council denied a request from CSRS Inc., on behalf of Apex Oil, to have some 700 acres of undeveloped land rezoned from residential to light industrial.
The council's decision was lauded by residents who packed council chambers Thursday night in opposition to the request, which had already been denied by the city's Planning and Zoning Committee.
"We need to stop this business! Every other meeting we have there's an application from another group wanting to come in and take advantage of our town," St. Gabriel resident Tom Miller told city leaders during a public hearing Thursday. "If we have a zoning ordinance which speaks against allowing this company to locate where they want, we should respect that."
It was unclear what the chemical company wanted to use the property for.
Marcy Hardy, who lives within a 1-mile radius of the property, said opening the property to industrial use would likely diminish the quality of life and property values for nearby residents by increasing the flow of truck traffic, noise and possible population to the area.
And Terri Frazier, another of the 12 residents who spoke Thursday night added, "How can you consider rezoning an area when you don't have a clue on what will be put in the area?
"The wealth of the city should not always be based on how much money the city makes, but the well being and happiness of its citizens."
These residents said they'd prefer seeing a new subdivision on the 700 acres — something that could attract more retail businesses to the city, which St. Gabriel lacks right now.
Lately, residents in St. Gabriel have been vocal in their opposition to any new rezoning requests that would mean the expansion of the city's industrial sector.
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In March, the City Council rejected a rezoning request from Adsorbent Solutions after some residents claimed the company's proposed expansion would further deteriorate their health and the city's quality of life.
And in October 2015, residents showed up in force to stop the city from rezoning a 3,000-acre tract from residential to heavy industrial. They feared doing so would have served as invitation for more industrial companies to set up shop in the city.
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At Thursday's council meeting, Taylor Gravois, a representative from CSRS Inc., asked the council for an extension to hold additional town meetings on changing the tract's zoning to business industrial park instead of light industrial.
"It may not change the outcome, but we'd like to hold some more town meetings so we can have an opportunity to address some of the concerns we heard here tonight," Gravois said.
But residents at the meeting said the city already has an business park that's mostly empty. And they argued that St. Gabriel has a wide variety of other undeveloped land parcels already zoned for industrial use and that are not in close proximity to residential neighborhoods.
The council opted to vote on the request as it was, thereby killing the proposal with their across-the-board thumbs down vote.