Planning Commission refuses to bail out Oak Lake Subdivision

It is refreshing to see my council representative actually represent the interests of his constituents.  It is unfortunate that developers have been allowed to do whatever they liked by the current council for so long that DR Horton thinks it’s entitled to whatever it wants,” Joel Robert said after witnessing DR Horton’s Adam Hurz blame-shifting to concerned residents.

DR Horton is the developer of Oak Lake Subdivision west of Hwy 44 just south of Gonzales’ city limits, and across from Conway Subdivision which sits on 342 acres annexed by the city a few years ago.  A condition of its preliminary plat approval, DR Horton has always intended to utilize the roundabout planned by Conway, even attempting to avoid payment of its fair share of ingress/egress in early 2016.  Its preliminary plat approved on December 9, 2015, Oak Lake made a bad bargain to use that roundabout and Ascension’s Planning Commission refused to bail DR Horton out at Wednesday’s meeting.

The company’s Agent for Property Acquisition, Jake Lambert (formerly of GSA Consulting Engineers) came before the commission for the second time in two months to request a variance and, if granted, Final Plat approval.  To hear Lambert tell it, DR Horton’s benevolence knows no bounds and his bosses have gone above and beyond for the benefit of local residents.  Lambert enumerated the meetings he’s had since being rebuffed on November 14.

He’s met with Council Chairman Bill Dawson whose District 2 includes Oak Lake, several Planning Commissioners, Planning Staff…

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  At least he did not claim to have persuaded any of them.

It had become clear that DR Horton’s variance request would not be granted so Lambert pulled it from Wednesday’s agenda, just like he did in November.  Public speakers were still afforded their opportunity to offer their thoughts.

Lambert and DR Horton are seeking to obviate the conditions attached to the original plat approval, that “a round-about be already constructed or a turn lane be required by the time the second phase, final plat is proposed.”  The roundabout in question is the subject of a December 3 contract with a completion date in October 2019.  That is according to the City of Gonzales’ Engineer Jackie Baumann.

Not soon enough for DR Horton which is ready to sell lots in its second and third phases.  Jake Lambert and his bosses lobbied for a variance, touting the developer’s benevolence in building 725 feet of additional southbound roadway to add capacity (for which DR Horton was given a credit against its Transportation Impact Fee obligation though Lambert failed to mention it).  He did boast that DR Horton is the first developer to participate in such an agreement with Ascension Parish, for whatever that is worth.

Shifting gears he claimed that DR Horton need only convert that 725 feet of new road, unusable at present, into a right-hand turn lane to satisfy the contingency/condition of Oak Lake’s plat approval.  Unfortunately for DR Horton one commissioner had meticulously reviewed the three-year old approval’s details.

Commissioner Aaron Chaisson pointed out that two turn lanes, right-hand and left-hand were required to satisfy the condition without that roundabout having been constructed.

No one not collecting a paycheck from DR Horton, not even three pro-development commissioners (Matthew Pryor, Morrie Bishop, and Julio Dumas), rose in support of its request.  Councilman Dawson authored a letter requesting the Commission to deny its variance request.  His declared opponent, assuming Dawson seeks reelection on October 12, was present on Wednesday, opting not to speak when the developer removed its variance from the agenda.

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