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."
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, December 11, 2013
That would be Congressman John Fleming talking about Sen. David Vitter.
The alleged mastermind behind the bribery scheme that went on for four years under DA Mike Harson’s nose isn’t just schizophrenic, bipolar and recovering from mini strokes; he now says he has cancer.
Louisiana's higher education leaders are trying to work out a financing deal to keep the state's public colleges from running low on state cash to operate their campuses.
With their latest triumph, the Saints left little doubt about how tough they are to beat in the Superdome. Unfortunately, two of their remaining three games are on the road.
For the first time in at least five years, retired teachers, state workers and school system employees could see an increase in their pension checks.
Lawmakers and Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration shared a collective sigh of relief with the news that Louisiana's tax amnesty program brought in the $200 million that they used to help balance this year's budget.
Drew Brees often makes the extraordinary look routine, particularly during night games in the Superdome.
The teams were extended invitations Sunday for the New Year's Day matchup played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If all 44 projects are approved, about $300 million would remain in the fund set up as a down payment to help the Gulf.
Last week, the Saints gave up 429 yards to Seattle, second most in a game this season.
Since Anthony Jennings and Brooks Haack were not expected to contribute until next year at the earliest, it seemed like a sneak peek at hidden Christmas gifts.
Louisiana National Guard personnel seeking benefits for same-sex spouses will have an easier time filing the requests, despite a state refusal to let its workers process the paperwork.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera sees one potential flaw with his team's stellar defensive play so far this season. "Apparently we like to bite on the double moves," Rivera said.
Computer hackers may have gained access to the personal information of thousands of Louisiana residents who use debit cards issued by JPMorgan Chase for three state agencies, authorities said Wednesday.
Jim Purcell, who has been in the job since February 2011, notified the Board of Regents about his decision at its monthly meeting.
Hushed plans for a commercial development along the Louisiana Avenue portion of the Holy Rosary campus put the future of longtime tenant EarthShare Gardens in jeopardy.
If a recent advertisement in The Daily Advertiser is any indication, speculation the local daily will be implementing the “Butterfly Project” could be more of a reality than the Gannett-owned paper’s top execs are willing to admit.
Mettenberger injured his left knee while unloading a 32-yard completion in the fourth quarter of No. 14 LSU's 31-27 victory over Arkansas last Friday, and LSU coach Les Miles confirmed the severity of the injury on Wednesday.
An ordinance to phase out a 2 percent rebate to Lafayette merchants for collecting and remitting on time sales taxes cleared the City-Parish Council by a 6-3 vote.
Louisianans are the fourth most likely to use profanity yet also the fourth most likely to be courteous. So, please, just kiss my a** ... if it’s not too much trouble.
The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority voted Tuesday to authorize two lawsuits against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
A long night on the field in Seattle got even worse off of it, and now the Saints are operating on a compressed time-frame as they brace for surging Carolina with first place in the NFC South at stake.
Public school letter grades, teacher evaluations and student promotion won't be affected by Louisiana's shift to more rigorous educational standards for two years, the state's top school board decided Tuesday.
Vitter told The Associated Press that he is sending an email to supporters Wednesday and is in discussions with his family about the possibility.