Plat approval for phase two of Hahnville’s River Place Estates, which would include 21 new residential lots near 14855 River Road in Hahnville, was denied by the St. Charles Parish Planning Commission in a meeting earlier this month.
The approval would have granted design, not bid or construction, permission.
The major subdivision request was made by JCJR St. Charles, LLC – a company owned by parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson II – and Highway 18, LLC.
According to submitted documents, the developer submitted a Preliminary Plat and the required Drainage Impact Analysis to the planning department and the required Preliminary Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) to the Environmental Regulatory Manager/MS4 Administrator on June 9.
The written opinion of Public Works Department Director Miles Bingham was that he viewed construction-related challenges as substantial.
Joey Murray of Murray Architects addressed the commission on behalf of JCJR prior to the vote.
“I just want to be clear. We’re not here for construction approval,” he said. “We can’t get to that stage until the primary plat has been approved and we know what we’re designing for.”
Walter Pilie, a Destrehan resident, was just one of the parish residents who addressed the commission and questioned the plat’s sewage, drainage and street plans. Many residents expressed concern about adding new homes to the area, especially considering the recent flooding issues the parish has experienced.
After the vote denying approval, Murray addressed the commission and asked for a reconsideration. He argued the plat approval would actually speed up drainage relief to the area because of the extensive studies that would have to be done prior to construction.
A motion to continue discussion passed, allowing time for Chaisson to also speak after the vote.
“This development is actually spurring the talks with the Union Pacific Railroad and the talk about getting the jack and bore, so I please ask you to reconsider and let me take that next step,” Chaisson said.
A motion to reconsider the vote failed.
Construction on Phase I of the project has already begun. The parish council, during a February 17 meeting, unanimously approved a move to rezone 34.8 acres for single-family homes by JCJR.
Murray said the approval covered the project’s first phase, or 42 lots. Depending on demand, he said a second phase would be planned.
“There’s a huge demand for lots,” Murray noted in February.
The Planning Commission’s July vote followed a contentious July 6 Parish Council meeting, in which the Council tabled St. Charles Parish President Matthew Jewell’s proposed temporary moratorium on major subdivisions, instead asking that it go before the parish’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
“Recent flooding has made it clear that it is time for St. Charles Parish to have a systematic master plan that allows new homes to be developed in a way that does not hinder the quality of life for current residents and homeowners,” Jewell said after introducing the moratorium earlier this month. “For far too long, we have simply added new developments and put additional burden on existing infrastructure without improving the conveyance canals and culverts that deliver water to our pump stations.”
The proposed moratorium would be in effect for 18 months, or until the parish-wide drainage and sewerage master plans are complete.
In order to dodge the moratorium, should be it be mandated, subdivision proposals would need to have made it through the plat approval phase to continue into the construction phase.
The next Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting is scheduled for August 6 in the Council Chambers at the parish courthouse, located at 15045 River Road in Hahnville.