Six new board members, including five for the first time, as well as a ward president took office in January 2020 when little or nothing was accomplished by the Ascension Parish government. Intra-council feuds with a fiery anti-President Clint Cointment faction, bent on derailing any executive action, relegated to virtual meetings by Gov. John Bel Edwards ‘coronavirus policy, the first year of the current four-year term n’ was not auspicious. This was not the case in 2021, when important and historic steps were taken on several fronts.
Perhaps the most disturbing threat to the parish, the east shore’s sewage treatment loomed large without garnering public attention for decades. With the ever-present threat of an EPA consent decree, with Louisiana’s DEQ refusing to let the parish know exactly where it was, sooner or later sewer treatment needed to be addressed. The previous presidential administration was replaced by Ascension Sewer, LLC, backed by Bernhard Capital Partners, for the full year of 2019, when several members of the previous board paid for the conglomerate.
Public outcry and bad timing, a potentially disastrous deal was put on hold at the end of 2019 when six lame duck members and a lame ward president balked.
The PEOPLE won on Friday; DENIED sewer agreement, postponed to January 23
In the end, the best was done of a bad situation when the new Cointment administration entered into negotiations with the renamed consortium National water infrastructure (NWI). The euphemistically unloading of all of the parish’s “sewerage assets” in return for $ 9 million was nothing short of a coup for Ascension Parish. With the sale of the public domain requiring a voters’ vote, 56% of voters approved the sale on April 24.
The windfall of $ 9 million will, once the agreement is finalized, be deposited in the news Mega Infrastructure Fund codified by ordinance on July 1. The funds may only be used “in the construction of fixed assets and infrastructure projects, including … amusement parks, transport … and drainage … The funds may only be used for construction items deemed to be direct costs… be used for professional services, such as engineering services.
The annual franchise fees paid by NWI to the parish, which are expected to generate a minimum of $ 500,000 per year, have been allocated by the recreation council.
Cointment’s 12-month moratorium rejected as Council opts for 9-month version
Also historically significant, on June 17, Council adopted a 9-month moratorium on the subdivision of the property. Moratoriums had been threatened in the past, but never applied. More recently, in April 2016, one was related to the introduction of development impact transport fees; rendered irrelevant when the fees were adopted.
President Cointment proposed a one-year moratorium to allow for the overhaul of the Unified Ascension Land Use Code and accompanying drainage regulations. Furious to receive three quarters of a loaf from recalcitrant advice, the overreaction of the executive belies the importance of this legislation. For the general public, a respite from residential subdivision approvals is the goal, but the moratorium is the moratorium. purpose.
Nine areas of concern were identified in the operating order:
- Drainage impact study required for proposed subdivision proposals;
- Drainage requirements for family partitions;
- Possible reduction of residential density in all zoning classifications;
- Alternative construction methods in flood-prone areas;
- Determine the feasibility of regional stormwater retention;
- Revise the ordinance on filling (ordinance on drainage);
- Conduct a budget review for drainage and provide formal orders to Council within 6 months;
- The Planning Commission will initiate the process of revising the master plan relating to the completion of the items listed above;
- Revise the Unified Code of Land Use Planning to conform to the last adopted master plan.
Admittedly, the ordinance adopted is the product of certain members of the Council. President Cointment’s original proposal listed five objectives:
- Assessment of a potential impact charge on drainage
- Density adjustments
- Address Subdivision Construction specifications
- Regional stormwater retention
- Revision of the filling order
Less than a week after the codification of the moratorium, six Council leaders targeted President Cointment, seeking his ouster from anything related to East Ascension drainage. There is a historical precedent, an old council (ten of which are Ex officio members of the EA Drainage Council) having stripped the authority and operational control of President Ronnie Hughes in December 2006. After Hughes left, a new agreement re-established the parish presidency on drainage in 2009, automatically renewed each year.
On June 28, six EA Drainage members voted to cancel this recurring annual agreement, becoming operational six months after providing “written notice” of termination to the president. In a battle of wills, it is Cointment, with a wave of public support, who will win after three months of quarrels.
EA Drainage Approves Cointment Deal In Loud Meeting (Another Orgeron Collapse)
A sad spectacle perpetrated by the failed anti-Cointment faction of the Council. A noisy population had the back of the president of the parish; and for good reason. Cointment can point out several drainage projects, some brand new and others reinvigorated, that his administration has inaugurated, among them …
- New River Dredging and Frog Bayou implemented after decades on the drawing board (funded)
- Laurel Ridge Levee extension proceeding after three-year delay due to Livingston Parish lawsuit (funded)
- Highway 22 Gapping Project, $ 42 million in funding raised as part of Livingston’s lawsuit settlement (funded)
- Potential New River Pumping Station in the Mississippi River (Discussion Stage)
- Sorrento Storm Surge Protection (partially funded)
- Marvin Braud Levee Upgrades (Funded)
- Highway 74 LA Flood Aid Project
- Bayou Manchac cleaning / hanging agreement with the parish of East Baton Rouge
And it wasn’t all about drainage in 2021. Recently announced, the Early Childhood Learning and Intervention Center in Donaldsonville is being undertaken in collaboration with APSO, Ascension Parish Library and the school board. The figure announced to finance it … in the neighborhood of $ 6 million.
St. Amant library / community center (on the docks) multi-agency effort envisioned
All in all, a memorable 2021.