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."
The fight to clean up Lafayette Parish could get some added ammunition with two ordinances up for votes Tuesday by the City-Parish Council targeting litter-bugs.
By striking a deal to lessen the blow of health insurance changes on state workers, school employees and retirees, Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration lowered the volume of criticism but gave itself and local school boards a new budget headache.
With the airport tax coming up for a parishwide vote in about a week, the Broussard City Council and its mayor have come out in support of the proposal.
Protesters rallied peacefully in several Louisiana cities in the wake of the Missouri grand jury decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of Michal Brown.
US cities bidding on Olympics; Guard prevents more Ferguson riots; storm threatens travel and more national and international news for Wednesday, November 26, 2014.
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
The U.S. rep billed LSU for work allegedly performed on the same days Congress voted on major legislation and held important committee hearings on energy and the ACA.
Abysmally low participation by the public has prompted the council to scuttle the 2014 survey with plans to simplify it and try again next year.
The village now says the ordinance will likely be overturned and authorities will more vigorously enforce existing leash laws.
Bill Cassidy cast an early ballot Tuesday, seeking to draw renewed attention to a race that has fallen off newspaper front pages and away from people's minds as they plan holiday meals and shopping schedules.
Battered all night by Baltimore's relentless pass rush, Drew Brees could feel his protection collapsing and Terrell Suggs getting ahold of him as he urgently unloaded a pass to the right flat toward tight end Jimmy Graham.
After a convincing defeat at the polls on Nov. 4, Earl “Nickey” Picard has decided to let bygones be bygones with his former right-hand man Brian Pope, announcing his support for his former employee’s runoff bid to become Lafayette’s next city marshal.
Saturday the athletic department did everything possible to ensure the 2014 Ragin’ Cajun seniors remembered fondly their last home game. Rain and lightning never arrived but turbulence did in the form of the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Even stranger than the Republican Party’s decision to hold a “unity rally” earlier this month for Congressman Bill Cassidy in a Baton Rouge bar, Huey’s Bar, was the fact that the establishment was named after Louisiana’s most famous Democrat.
Bar Code is not a gay bar.
After failing to pass a medical marijuana bill last year, state Sen. Fred Mills, R-Parks, is telling supporters he will return in 2015 with legislation that focuses on different applications like oils and pills.
Voters, obviously, are not yet tuned into the 2015 ballot, despite the intriguing races it will host.
By now, the story of how longtime LSU coach Dale Brown discovered Shaquille O'Neal has been told many times: Brown happened upon a massive 13-year-old at an army base in Germany, stayed in touch with him and eventually became like a second father.
Fate simply wasn't ready to give the New Orleans Saints a break from longtime nemesis Steve Smith.
Lafayette Police have had a busy day.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration will use $130 million in patchwork financing from a tax amnesty program, insurance settlement, uninsured motorist penalties and other excess funds to close most of the state's midyear budget deficit.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu said she disagrees with President Barack Obama's actions on immigration, hoping the latest controversy doesn't worsen her campaign difficulties.
Gay-rights advocates challenging Louisiana's same-sex marriage ban announced Thursday that they have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review their case before it is heard by a federal appeals court.
Thinking himself the “son of God,” the man charged with the 2013 killing of an officer of the Chitimacha Tribal Police will not stand trial following a ruling Thursday on his mental competency.
Either Saints coach Sean Payton doesn't want to tip Baltimore off as to who'll start in New Orleans' secondary on Monday night, or he really doesn't know yet.