VACHERIE — The St. James Parish Council, in a 6-1 vote Wednesday, halted Wolverine Terminals’ plan to build a $30 million crude oil terminal and blending operation along River Road in Paulina.
The Parish Council followed the recommendation of the parish Planning Commission, whose members in July had voted against Wolverine’s plans, based on residents who opposed the industry building next to their homes and on the industry’s incompatibility at that 15-acre site under the parish’s new land use plan.
Wolverine’s proposed project included rail and dock facility improvements along with storage tank construction that would enable the company to receive heavy crude oil shipments by rail from Canadian and U.S. locations and to ship blended oil products by Mississippi River barge to domestic customers.
Many residents have opposed the project from its inception, citing fears of industrial accidents, pollution, noise and traffic.
Residents who attended Wednesday’s Parish Council meeting were overjoyed with the decision.
“I’m just happy for my kids,” said a tearful David Lambert, whose home is about 500 feet from Wolverine’s proposed site. “But, it’s not over,” he said, adding he won’t stop until all Wolverine signs are gone from local fences and property.
Wolverine General Manager Terry Wilson said he was disappointed with the Parish Council’s decision.
“We were bringing jobs here that the community isn’t going to get now,” Wilson said.
Wilson said he will go back to Wolverine’s board to get a determination if the company should try to find a new site in the parish, but he noted that other sites in the parish the company had looked at were unfit for the project.
Much of the debate over approving Wolverine’s request to build in Paulina had centered around the property designation of the site.
According to the parish’s new land use plan, created to regulate future growth and development and adopted by the Parish Council in April, the site is located in an area designated residential and mixed residential and commercial, said Victor Franckiewicz Jr., who represented the Planning Commission.
Wolverine attorney J. Michael Bowman told the Parish Council the proposed project would have no more impact than a commercial business like a gas station or restaurant.
Bowman also argued that Wolverine’s proposed site should fall under the land use plan’s nonconforming use exception because it has already leased land from grain elevator company ADM Growmark, obtained several important permits and begun preliminary construction of the facility.
Ultimately, the Parish Council sided against Wolverine . Councilman Jimmy Brazan was the dissenting vote.
“It’s unbelievable,” said resident Todd Lambert, brother of David Lambert. “There’s no way to describe it. To go from thinking about selling everything you own to getting your life back.”