St. Tammany council approves 800-acre manufacturing, logistics site northeast of Mandeville

Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 4:54 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - St. Tammany Parish council members voted unanimously in the middle of the night to change the zoning of an 800-acre tract of land, allowing large manufacturing and logistics facilities to be developed northeast of Mandeville.

After an all-night meeting, the parish council voted in favor of the rezoning 13-0 at 1:30 a.m. Friday, June 3.

Opponents of the change say they are not giving up without a fight.

“Something of such a huge capacity that will impact everyone in St. Tammany and it seems to have come out of nowhere,” said Greta Perry, who attended Thursday night’s meeting.

Proponents say the area is well suited for the developments, but opponents say protecting the St. Tammany quality of life is priority number one.

“I think it will bring a generation’s worth of economic opportunities and be an economic driver for the future of St. Tammany,” said Chris Massingill, the director of St. Tammany Corporation.

Developer John Crosby tells FOX 8 that he is hearing from a number of logistics companies that have interest in the site and he promises a master overlay plan with some logistics, trucking, or manufacturing projects submitted to parish zoning within six months. But there are concerns.

“They are planning on having all of New Orleans port transportation moved from the port into St. Tammany Parish. That will be about another 1,000 trucks a week and I-12 cannot handle what it has now,” said Andrew Wilson, with the Audobon Society of New Orleans.

St. Tammany Corp. and the Port of New Orleans have signed an agreement to try and develop new business relationships in this region and while both sides say there are no specific proposals in place right now, things could change in the future.

“The port is in a major expansion. They see this as a major opportunity and we will work together,” said Massingill.

Perry says she is not anti-growth, she just wants to hear more about traffic, flood, and infrastructure impacts before a project of such magnitude moves forward.

“The talking points are; we need retention, and jobs, and more people. We have a lot of people here and we have problems right now,” said Massingill.

Opponents have filed dozens of appeals to the zoning change and may go to court to try and block it.

“Pollution is a big concern because this project, as designed, drains into three different water bodies like Bayou Castine,” said Wilson.

Crosby says he is committed to upholding the same environmental standards of his other developments in the metro area. Parish rules require him to decrease potential runoff from the new development by as much as 25%. He says that can be achieved by building retention ponds and an undersized drain that would restrict runoff.

“The process is in place now to have a real rigorous review. All engineering has got to be in place,” said Massingill.

“This will impact our daily life wherever you live in the parish,” said Perry.

Residents who say this zoning change was not properly vetted promise to be more active in the future.

New fire houses are also being proposed for the area, should a large fire break out in one of the new proposed warehouses.

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