Parish proposes to buy $525K site for P&Z

Council members question move

July 12 at 3:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Parish proposes to buy $525K site for P&Z
St. Charles Parish's proposed $525,000 purchase of a site in Hahnville to expand government services is drawing criticism by two council members who say the money should go to levee construction.

Council Chairman Terrell Wilson, who maintained he didn’t know about the project until his pastor asked him about it, said when the ordinance comes up for consideration on the council’s July 10 agenda that he’s going to oppose the move.Wilson and Councilman Paul Hogan both say the money should go to levees,  not another government expansion project at this time.

Parish President Larry Cochran said the 5.6-acre site “is valuable due to its proximity to the courthouse and other existing government buildings. However, it was a difficult decision to make for us.”

The proposed ordinance currently calls for reallocating$525,000 from the general fund to acquire the location at 15090 River Road across from the St. Charles Parish Courthouse. It states the site, which also includes a vacant building, would be used for new offices for the parish’s Planning and Zoning Department.

Cochran said the plans are still preliminary as to which departments or offices will go on the property.

“Planning and Zoning is certainly an option as they were budgeted for an expansion and this would remedy that,” Cochran said.

He further states if Planning and Zoning was to move to the location, it would open up space for parish departments that were relocated to the courthouse last year. And their move would open up space in the courthouse for offices looking to expand, Cochran added.

“There are no plans currently to demolish the building,” he said. “There would likely be some degree of renovation involved.”

As of now, Cochran said the project would not likely begin until January 2018 if approved.

Hogan called the plan to purchase the site “outrageous,” adding, “all of our money that is not dedicated needs to be spent on levees, not buying another building or land.”Hogan said they recently approved adding a generator to the existing Planning and Zoning building, which was sized to accommodate future expansion.

He doesn’t question who owns the site, but does oppose making this purchase.

“If you buy it, you have to renovate it,” he said. “Why entertain this idea? Just expand the existing building for P&Z rather than buying the land if more space is needed. We don’t buy a whole new property just to throw our taxpayer dollars away at it.”

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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