State announces plans for medical distribution center despite opposition from neighbors

St. Tammany Medline Approved

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) -A medical distribution center will be built near Covington despite opposition from North Shore neighbors.

Nancy Wagner along with other concerned neighbors and businesses have been fighting the distribution center for months.

“We have a great deal of organized opposition,” said Wagner. “We have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds, we had over 13-hundred petitions by the time of the second zoning commission hearing.”

But, Wednesday there was an official word from St. Tammany and State leaders that Medline Industries will replace its existing distribution center between Covington and Goodbee with an 800,000 square foot facility north of I-12 and LA 21.

“This is a globally recognized company that is already here in St. Tammany and chose to stay here to provide more jobs because they recognize that they want to continue to invest in our economy. We’re talking about potentially up to 18-million back into our coffers in new taxes,” said Chris Masingill, CEO of the St. Tammany Corporation.

While the St. Tammany Corporation says the new 53-million dollar distribution center will also create more than 460 new jobs. Neighbors have contacted the Fox 8 Defenders with concerns about traffic and drainage.

“We feel strongly that this is inappropriate re-zoning,” said Wagner.

“Medline has done an amazing job of really recognizing these issues, really working through the process, staying committed to the State and to St. Tammany and the North Shore because it’s good for their business model and good for the area,” said Masingill.

But, Wagner says they will continue to fight the project. “A number of us have pledged to file suit in 22 JDC,” said Wagner.

In a statement, St. Tammany Parish President-elect Mike Cooper said:

“I have consistently maintained that this new zoning is not appropriate for that property, but this Council-adopted ordinance has now become law with the incumbent Parish President’s signature. I support bringing new, clean industry to St. Tammany Parish, but I think there are more suitable locations for this project. I will become Parish President on Jan. 13, 2020, and as any development moves forward – not just there, but anywhere in St. Tammany Parish – I will give attention and weight to the concerns of area residents, the demands on infrastructure, and additional impacts on public safety and traffic flow.”

We contacted the office of outgoing St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister. A spokesperson said she won’t veto the project because the council has enough votes to override her.

We also contacted Medline. In response to our question about neighbor’s traffic concerns, a spokesperson said "one of the key factors of site selection is immediate access to non-residential roads, which this location has in abundance. Medline’s vehicles leaving the new distribution center will travel east, west and south – southbound trucks will use the Causeway. Inbound trucks will utilize Highway 1077. More than 20,000 vehicles per day currently travel Oschner Blvd. The new center will add 150 trucks to that number, or less than 1% more. We are very confident when the project is complete, there will be only a positive impact on the community. "

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