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."
A push to expand Louisiana's Medicaid program as allowed under the federal health care has been overwhelmingly rejected by the Senate health committee.
Louisiana welfare recipients would be prohibited in state law from spending the federal assistance at lingerie shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons and jewelry stores, under a bill that received the support Wednesday of a House committee.
Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.
Rep. Joel Robideaux has delayed bill hearings and said unless a compromise can be reached, he won't bring up the legislation this session.
Once again, Lafayette Parish School Board President Hunter Beasley is focused on an issue that has nothing to do with the educational well-being of our public school children.
After exhausting his appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop in Grosse Tete has no legal remedy left save one: do an end run around the high court via a bill that would grandfather his “right” to keep a 550-pound tiger enclosed in a pin at his roadside business.
Louisiana poet Darrell Bourque has won the 2014 Louisiana Writer Award, given annually to recognize outstanding contributions to Louisiana's literary and intellectual life.
Drivers would have to secure dogs riding in truck beds while on interstate highways, if the Senate agrees to a bill backed by the House.
Here's your daily look at late-breaking national and international news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday, April 23, 2014:
Wednesday's Blogs from the Bog!
An effort to prohibit employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity was shelved Tuesday for the legislative session.
Louisiana won't lessen its penalties for marijuana possession, keeping laws on the books that allow people to be jailed up to 20 years for repeat offenses of having the drug in hand.
“This is one of the oldest divides that exists, and that divide is about the haves and the have-nots.”
It took a few weeks for the pitfalls to emerge in the governor’s $25 billion budget, but the time of judgment has finally arrived.
With pressure continuing to build for him to resign, Congressman Vance McAllister announced plans recently to remain secluded during the Easter break, but the Swartz Republican has said he’ll be back on the Hill casting votes and attending committee meetings when the congressional recess ends April 28.
A bid to limit the use of unmanned aircraft on private property in Louisiana stalled Monday in the Louisiana Senate.
A Shreveport lawmaker said Monday he's scrapping his proposal to name the Bible as Louisiana's official state book.
Attorney hopes fellow lawyers will join him in urging the D.A. to step aside and allow a competent, ethical challenger to take over the scandal-ridden office.
An official with the Louisiana Department of Education was arrested on a range of charges Friday after allegedly breaking into a home and brandishing a knife.
State Rep. Stuart Bishop says he’s concerned with the quality of Capitol Lake, but when it comes to Louisiana’s coastline, this Lafayette Republican doesn't seem to give a damn.
Democrats sweating this year's elections may be hoping that the Obama administration's latest delay to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline takes a politically fraught issue off the table for the midterms.
Louisiana lawmakers are entering the second half of their three-month regular legislative session, which must end by June 2. Where some of the major issues stand:
Local and state agents Thursday night raided The Keg, the popular college bar located in the area known as The Strip, leading to the (at least) temporary closure of the venue.
Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
“The accomplishment of this goal within the next ten years is not only critical for the region to effectively compete with other regions for residents and businesses, but also to provide an amenity for everyone in Acadiana to enjoy.”