Neighbors complain, council rezones

Planning commish irks some by changing residential

April 08, 2010 at 2:21 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Planning and Zoning Commission member Neal Clulee can rezone nine acres of land on Highway 90 from wetlands and residential to highway commercial after the St. Charles Parish Council approved the move on Monday.

Clulee and his wife, Mary, have been using the property commercially since Nov. 6 when they allowed Phylway Construction, LLC to store trucks, fuel tanks and job trailers there. In January, the parish ruled that Clulee was in violation of the zoning code, but neighbors say he was never forced into compliance.

Instead, Clulee was given the option to rezone the land to a C-3 zoning designation, which was awarded to him by the 6-3 council vote.

Council members Shelley Tastet, Larry Cochran, Billy Raymond, Marcus Lambert, Dennis Nuss and Wendy Benedetto voted to approve the rezone. Paul Hogan, Terry Authement and Carolyn Schexnaydre - who were the only ones to speak on the matter before the vote - voted against it.

Schexnaydre said that a cease and desist order should have been put out immediately after the parish discovered that Clulee was violating the zoning code and asked why the illegal use of the land was allowed to go on for so long.

Planning and Zoning Director Kim Marousek said it took time for the parish to determine whether they had the jurisdiction to force Clulee into compliance because of questions over whether or not the Army Corps of Engineers had taken the property.

Instead, Clulee is leasing the land to Phylway, which is a corps contractor working on the Western Tie-In.

When that was discovered, Marousek said the violation letter was issued, but that Clulee could rezone the land because highway commercial is an appropriate use for the area as it sits along U.S. 90.

Ricky Dufrene, who owns the land adjacent to Clulee’s, claims that it was just “Wild West politics,” and that Clulee used his influence on the Planning and Zoning Commission in order to get the land rezoned.

Frank Matherne, who also lives near the property, said that Clulee won’t comply to the parish so that the parish has to comply to Clulee.

Along with Schexnaydre, Councilmen Terry Authement and Paul Hogan also raised objections to the rezone. Authement urged his fellow council members to think about the affect that the rezone would have on the people that live there, while Hogan said that the rezone was bringing illegal use into conformance and asked if anyone on the council would want a C-3 property next to their homes.

One resident, Jara Roux of Ama, felt that the parish should wait until an ongoing comprehensive land use plan is completed. She added that there aren’t adequate turn lanes to support the commercial development of the land  on eastern Highway 90 now.

View other articles written By Jonathan Menard

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