Louisiana Parish Pauses New Development Amid Flood Concerns

PLAQUEMINE, La. (AP) — A parish council in Louisiana has approved a one-year moratorium on new development in part of its jurisdiction to address concerns about drainage following severe flash flooding in May.

Iberville Parish Council unanimously voted on Tuesday night to halt the construction of high-density subdivisions within unincorporated areas east of the Mississippi River, news outlets reported.

The meeting featured some tense exchanges between council members, residents and housing developers.

St. Gabriel resident Jeremy Cronon supported the development pause. Homeowners in his neighborhood still have sandbags in their yards after water from the recent floods didn’t drain for weeks, according to WAFB-TV. Cronon said: “Every time it rains, I’m wondering, ‘Is this going to push it higher?’”

A tropical depression forming in the Gulf of Mexico could arrive in southern Louisiana sometime on Friday, forecasters say, worrying locals about further damage that more rain could cause.

While developers say moratoriums stunt the growth of the parish and hurt jobs, the council says it needs to take time to assess these issues.

“Can you guarantee the people who buy your house that that water is going to stay out of there? I don’t think you can,” Matthew Jewell, chair of the Iberville Parish council, told developers at Tuesday’s meeting.

Other local governments in the Baton Rouge region have also considered temporarily stopping development in recent years to address concerns about roads that are overwhelmed by traffic and drainage, according to The Advocate.

Ascension Parish is expected to approve a halt on new commercial and residential growth Thursday. Its president, Clint Cointment, said the flooding in May trapped people in newly built neighborhoods that should have met the latest development standards.

“We need to make changes now,” he told the newspaper. “We should not have a new subdivision be approved without adequate drainage standards, period.”