Port Marigny: what’s taking so long?

The Chamber understands concerns about the biggest proposed development in Mandeville, but is confident the City Council will keep an open mind and continue on the path toward smart growth.

Port Marigny:  what’s taking so long?

The proposed development of Port Marigny in the City of Mandeville has tremendous potential for economic growth and progress. We have learned from multiple presentations and one-on-one meetings, including with Mayor Donald Villere, Planning & Zoning Chairman Nixon Adams and the attorney representing the owners of the site. We have come to understand the process that has taken place, as well as the next steps that must occur before the new City Council can proceed with a vote, so we are sharing that with our weekly article readers.

The following steps by our Chamber preceded our publicizing this formal statement:

  • Because of the location of the property and the multiple impacts of its proposed development, our board requested detailed information before considering support or opposition.
  • They considered all facts, including potential economic impact, including a $200 million investment, up to a $2 million property tax increase, ongoing desire for job creation while improving our economy, but not to include manufacturing type facilities.

The Mandeville Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), whose members are appointed, not elected, held 14 special meetings to review all aspects of the proposed development and its overall impact. On May 4, a vote of 6-0-1, with one absent member who supports, was passed to recommend the project be forwarded to the Council for final and formal approval. The reason the case is finally decided by the Council, rather than the P&Z, is that it is a conditional use and is in effect a rezoning of the specific site and use plan being proposed. Rezoning is a legislative act that can only be done by the legislative body.

The process appears to have been followed according to all legal guidelines. As with any process, errors and misunderstandings were corrected or resolved; two traffic studies conducted and reviewed; coordinating and scheduling consultants takes time; and the flow of other cases through the P&Z process could not be delayed for Port Marigny.

The project meets the requirements of CLURO (Comprehensive Land Use Regulations Ordinance); the site is zoned for the proposed type of development. It also meets the City’s long-term comprehensive master plan for development. This plan is considered current, having been revised in 2007 following numerous well-attended city-wide meetings, therefore presumably represents the vision that the majority of citizens have for the City’s development.

An issue that remains, due to no consensus among council members, is whether the city should hire a new attorney other than the city attorney for additional review & guidance.

Before a Council vote: 1) public advertisement of the Development Agreement (once per week for three weeks) had to occur before any public discussion before the council; 2) the Council needs to approve amendments that were made to the ordinance.

Adding to the delay, time ran out before the former Council could vote — June 23 was the final meeting of the former City Council. Three members were replaced, two remained. Both former and new/current councilmen have been present at the majority of the 14 P&Z meetings. Concerns remain for some of them before a vote will take place.

The primary remaining concern is traffic. The property owners commissioned the first traffic study, which was evaluated by a city consultant. A second study includes the entire North Causeway, Hwy. 22 and surrounding areas. Its findings will be instrumental toward a decision/vote.

Since P&Z approval, a special city council meeting was held to discuss these concerns. According to a council source, never before has an issue or development required special meetings take place for more discussion.

The Chamber realizes and understands concerns associated with the proposed density of the conceptual plan with a focus on potential traffic issues. We also want to commend the property owners, who have been cooperative and patient, including their willingness to decrease density/number of future residents of the development. Additionally, during our research, we learned several significant traffic solutions are being proposed that could alleviate major issues regarding safe and efficient movement for all vehicles related to the site, as well as vehicles traveling throughout Greater Mandeville.

The Chamber acknowledges that the P&Z did not rush though the process, nor should the Council. We understand concerns about the biggest proposed development in Mandeville. A project with such an impact must be implemented correctly. We encourage the Council to proceed swiftly. We are confident they will keep an open mind and continue on the path toward smart growth.

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