The St. Charles Parish Council cleared the way for construction of a high-end apartment complex with up to 600 units in Destrehan.
With unanimous approval, the council signed off on amending the zoning code by removing a restriction that banned residential structures within 500 feet of a rail switching yard.
“This passing tonight ensures those plans stay on track,” said Joey Murray of Murray Architects.
Murray said he was at the meeting on behalf of P&L Investments, that purchased 1,400 acres in Destrehan from BP, and is apparently selling 20 to 30 acres of it to 310 Developers LLC. The company proposes to build up to a 600-unit, gated apartment complex on the east side of I-310.
The project is planned on West Campus Drive, which has to be extended, behind the Plantation View medical office building.
Washington, D.C., attorney Gary Silversmith owns P & L Investments.
Both companies asked for the ordinance change.
Parish District Attorney Joel Chaisson II also asked for the change, who wants to develop an eight-lot residential project.
Without the change, Chaisson said he’d have to do an industrial development there, which he doesn’t want to do.
Parish Public Works Director Clayton “Snookie” Faucheux said efforts to change the shifting yard location to accommodate homeowners were initiated in 2006 with then rail owner Illinois Central (now owned by CN), which was asked to move the switching yard to the east side of Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge.
The company studied the move and reported it would cost up to $1 million, a decision that it took into advisement with no result.
Faucheux said the residences did come after the yard was established, which prompted the railroad’s question of what was to avoid the situation being repeated if the yard was moved. It prompted the restriction that did not allow residential construction within 500 feet of the yard.
Some 12 years later, no changes have been made to the yard.
“We do have a residential neighborhood that wants to come in there and I think that would an asset instead of an industrial site,” Faucheux said.
Councilman Paul Hogan, who agreed with lifting the restriction, said he supported allowing landowners in doing what they wanted to with their property.
However, Milton Allemand of Hahnville questioned lifting the restriction, particularly with the railroad being an important asset to an “industrial parish.”