The St. Charles Parish Council “postponed indefinitely” Gulf South Pipeline’s gas compressor station that would be a part of Entergy’s $869 million St. Charles Power station in Montz.
At Monday’s council meeting, members voted 5 to 3 (Councilwoman Wendy Benedetto recused on voting citing a conflict of interest)that actually allows Gulf South to resubmit the project at any time with changes. Had the council rejected it, the company would have had to wait a year to resubmit a new plan.
Councilwoman Traci Fletcher, who represents the area, wanted the project rejected outright.
Fletcher clarified the motion to postpone actually means Gulf South can come back at any time and “probably at a time when y’all are not paying attention.”
After the meeting, Councilman Dick Gibbs said their vote to “postpone indefinitely” was misunderstood.
“We, as a group, stand with Traci Fletcher and will not vote for the zoning change until a manageable workaround has been agreed to by the people of Montz,” Gibbs said. “And even then, it will have to be scrutinized very carefully.”
Gibbs said he trusts Entergy will do the right thing, but called into question the credibility of Gulf South Pipeline.
“The attorney for Gulf South spoke to the council and his presentation was terrible,” Gibbs said. “While many mistakes were admittedly made, this gentleman spoke as if the citizens of Montz should simply forgive and forget. It was without any remorse or contrite. I will not vote for this in its present form, but will allow Entergy to develop a different plan going forward that must be agreed upon by the citizens of Montz.”
Gulf South and Entergy thanked the council for postponing the decision and both say they will work with the community to address their concerns.
The planned compressor station was proposed to be built off Evangeline Road in the residential community of Montz.
Fletcher opposed it, noting they learned about the project on May 23 when “we were all slapped in the face by this announcement nine days before it went to [the department of] Planning and Zoning. On May 24, I went into a meeting and was told point blank this was going to happen, and I said ‘No.’”
Planning and Zoning recommended the council deny rezoning requests that would have cleared way for the comressor station.
After the council vote, Fletcher walked out of the meeting and was soon followed by Councilman Billy Woodruff.
After the meeting, Woodruff said he left the meeting because he also opposed the project, adding he would not want a gas compressor station in his backyard either.
“I was totally ashamed and embarrassed up there with what they did with Montz residents,” Woodruff said. “They came to us asking for our help and representation. We failed them miserably.”
He maintained a vote opposing the project would have meant Gulf South would have had to wait a year before proposing it again.
Gulf South spokeswoman Molly Whitaker said they were pleased with the council giving them more time “to work with the community to address their concerns with the project.”
Entergy spokesman Michael Burns also thanked the council for the decision.
“We will continue to work with the community and Gulf South to address stakeholder concerns surrounding this project, which is an essential part of the St. Charles Power Station,” Burns said. “Without the Gulf South compressor station, the cost and schedule of the new power plant may be affected.”