One member, Girard Park Drive bed-and-breakfast owner Kolleen Bowen Verlander, says Authement could seek a more restrictive rezoning that would still allow for commercial projects on the 100-acre tract of undeveloped Johnston Street land. "We can't second-guess Authement," says Verlander. "All we can do is be a watchdog in the university's dealings with the Board of Supervisors [for the UL System]."
The contentious rezoning issue, whereby Authement was seeking to have 36 acres of the land closest to Johnston Street reclassified from residential to general business so that he could swap them for 4 acres on Girard Park Drive, was scheduled for a vote of the Lafayette City-Parish Council on March 1. The Zoning Commission had recommended against the rezoning, saying the proposed developers of a commercial center on the land, BRE-ARD LLC, did not submit a plan that addressed traffic impact, vehicular access, infrastructure improvements and buffering from nearby residents.
UL President Ray Authement was at a Board of Supervisors meeting last Friday and was unavailable for comment. "We need more time to explore our options," says Julie Dronet, the university's director of public relations.
The board, which approved the suspect land swap in August 2005, would have to give its nod to any new arrangement, whether in the form of a restructuring of the current exchange or a new one.
On Dec. 7, the board requested independent appraisals of the horse farm and the Girard Park property after appraisals commissioned by the university for the proposed swap valued both tracts at $3.25 million. The board had already ordered that the horse farm be re-appraised based on its pending rezoning application to commercial, which increased its value from $3.25 million to $5.37 million.
The state Division of Administration's Office of Facility Planning and Control is handling the issue of the new appraisals. That office's spokeswoman, Denise Marrero, could not be reached for comment last week.
Verlander says Save the Horse Farm's primary effort is focused on building coalitions of support across the city. "Our plan is to start uniting the community," she says.
As first reported in The Independent Weekly ("Field of Dreams," Dec. 21), City-Parish President Joey Durel has been contacted by a number of influential business leaders hoping to preserve the community landmark. Those interested parties ' which include individuals from the real estate, legal, financial and manufacturing sectors ' are not only proposing a public-private partnership, but they are also willing to provide their services free of charge. Durel has declined to identify any of the potential partners at this time.
Durel is in ongoing talks with Authement, hoping to work out a deal to take over the horse farm property and help the university get land closer to campus for expansion. As part of those negotiations, Durel had the 8-acre Youth Park that adjoins the campus behind the Johnston Street fire station appraised, but it was valued at only $400,000. At that price, Durel says it makes more sense to keep the park.
Ultimately, a portion of the horse farm may be developed residentially, using some of the proceeds to pay for the park, according to Durel. He stresses that a 50-acre park is better than no park ' and certainly more attractive than the alternative of commercial development. "I've got some things up my sleeve, but I can't talk about them right now," Durel says. "But the things we're talking about would have to be made public pretty soon."
Even if Jimmy Graham's production dips while the star tight end recovers from a shoulder injury, it looks like Drew Brees won't have much trouble finding other targets.
A former campaign manager for Senate candidate Rob Maness is striking at the Republican contender's tea party support, saying Maness only sought to appeal to conservative organizations because he needed money for his campaign.
Ninety-two percent of public school teachers were rated either effective or highly effective in a report the state issued marking the second year of a new statewide evaluation process.
Corporations spending in state elections; Kenny G and Hong Kong; states resist gay marriage and more national and international news for Thursday, October 23, 2014.
Thursday's Blogs from the Bog!
School board members Mark Babineaux, Hunter Beasley and Tehmi Chassion can vote to fire Cooper — because we all know that’s exactly what they’ll do.
District 2 school board candidate Simon Mahan is hoping to unseat first-term incumbent and former Carencro Mayor Tommy Angelle in the Nov. 4 election.
District Attorney Mike Harson is showing his desperation by falsely attributing quotes to his opponent and blocking journalists from his social media.
The governor is traveling the country laying the groundwork for a possible 2016 presidential campaign, but his approval ratings at home hover well below 50 percent.
State District Judge Bob Downing extended the order and delayed a planned Wednesday hearing about a permanent injunction while negotiations continue between Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and the waste disposal site operator.
New Louisiana higher education commissioner Joseph Rallo will be paid more than his predecessor.
Elijah McGuire and Alonzo Harris each had four rushing touchdowns, and Louisiana-Lafayette rolled to 419 yards on the ground in a 55-40 victory over Arkansas State on Tuesday night.
Bill and Hillary Clinton are the validators-in-chief for Democrats struggling through a bleak campaign season in states where President Barack Obama is deeply unpopular.
President Barack Obama is turning to black radio listeners to plead for midterm votes, a targeted approach to drum up Democratic support at a time when many candidates don't want him around in person.
"I am extremely disheartened by the political machines that are attempting to hijack my efforts along with others that advocate for children."
Landrieu, who is fighting to keep her seat for a fourth term, said that Ebola is serious and precautions should be taken, but she accused Republicans of using the virus outbreak in West Africa to "create fear" here at home.
Law enforcement agencies are participating in a "Louisiana Heroin Summit," designed to address the recent rise in heroin use and drug-related deaths around the state.
State education officials are preparing to release performance scores for public schools and public school districts.
Saints coach Sean Payton is starting a new week by emphasizing, repeatedly, the many good things he noticed during New Orleans' latest loss.
We will be offering our recommendations on the constitutional amendments tomorrow.
The justices did not comment in leaving in place lower court rulings that dismissed the lawsuits against BP and other companies involved in the worst U.S. offshore oil spill.
White registration is down by 7,700 voters while black registration has shot up by 7,100 voters.
Even though it had been rumored for months, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu finally pulled the trigger recently on a major campaign shakeup that moved control over to a few Big Easy insiders.
Louisiana's health department says it will seek law changes to stop billing sexual assault victims for exams and tests.
It wasn’t the historic slashes to higher ed funding or the ensuing tuition spikes that recently had LSU’s student body and faculty riled up in collective outrage.