In a vote of six to two, the St. Charles Parish Council voted at its September 11 council meeting to approve a block length waiver request on a proposed St. Rose area development, Almedia Gardens, a subdivision the developer’s representative said at the meeting had been in the works since 2019.
While approval of the waiver request was considered a routine measure frequently approved for other subdivisions in St. Charles Parish, the larger issue of the new St. Rose development was opposed by several local area residents who spoke out at the meeting, drainage and traffic among their chief concerns.
“The people of St. Rose are very concerned and are looking for a little more input on how the drainage issues are going to be addressed in St. Rose as a whole, and with this particular project,” St. Rose resident Michelle O’Daniels said at the meeting.
St. Charles Parish implemented a brief moratorium on new developments in 2020 to study regulations and later added additional requirements for subdivision development to help reduce traffic congestion and drainage issues brought on by new development. Parish officials assured residents the proposed Almedia Gardens development would not escape enforcement of those new regulations.
Councilmember Holly Fonseca, Council-At-Large Division B, reminded parish residents at the meeting an approval of the block length waiver request was not a rubber stamp approval for the new subdivision. There were many more steps and reviews still to come by various parish departments, Fonseca said, before the subdivision was given the green light to proceed, some of which will include traffic studies and drainage analysis.
“If the subdivision doesn’t meet the regulations that we put in place, it won’t move forward at all through Planning and Zoning,” Fonseca said. “If the developer cannot comply with the regulations in place, it’s not going to happen.”
Public Works Director Miles Bingham echoed Fonseca’s comments and explained further the parish’s new ‘zero impact’ drainage regulations implemented following the 2020 development moratorium.
“One of the things in our code – and we have been enforcing it – is the zero impact,” Bingham, who has a civil engineering background, explained. “Which means any water that is on this property, if they increase the amount of flow off of this property it has to stay at the same level; there is no increase…and that will be enforced on this subdivision.”
Bingham later mentioned a larger St. Rose area drainage analysis had recently been performed, one that identified several actionable measures needed to improve drainage for the entirety of the St. Rose community, beyond the scope of just the proposed development. The Public Works director recommended that analysis should be studied as soon as possible by the council.
Not all residents were opposed to the development, as evident by Marcel Digiovanni, a St. Rose property owner who said he was the owner of property adjacent to the proposed Almedia Gardens subdivision.
“I support the project, because you have vacant land that needs to be brought back into commerce – it’s overgrown, and unused,” Digiovanni said at the council meeting. “St. Rose is changing from a farming community to suburbs, and this is just one more step…some of us that have been around here for a long time liked it when it was all farms, but that’s just not the way things work.”