The Audubon Society goes to court in an effort to block new development near Mandeville

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:38 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Audubon Society went to court in Covington Friday (Sept. 23) in an effort to block a large new industrial transportation complex near Mandeville.

They say parish zoning rules were not followed.

Three months ago the St. Tammany Council approved new zoning for an 827-acre wooded tract of land near Mandeville which would allow manufacturing and logistics, along with warehouses as big as a million and a half square feet. Some say they were caught by surprise.

“With the pandemic, I wasn’t familiar with what it meant,” said Tammany resident and courtroom observer Joan Simon.

An attorney for the Audubon Society went to the Covington Courthouse Friday to say that the process used to approve the project was Flawed.

“Traffic, and environmental impacts, none of that was considered,” said Audobon attorney Andrew Wilson.

Wilson asked Judge John Keller to order the parish council to hear an appeal of a vote which cleared the way for the new directions 2040 zoning plan. It recommended using 17,000 acres of land north of I-12 for manufacturing and logistics, including the site northeast of Mandeville along Highway 1088.

“If nobody does anything even in a hurricane, everyone will be landlocked. Nobody can get around the parish,” said Wilson.

The judge ruled there is no requirement that the council grants a rehearing.

Though Judge John Keller denied the Audubon society’s request to force the council to hear an appeal on the zoning plan, he did leave the door open for other court challenges to the industrial zoning change.

“We have three options, this court, first circuit, or go directly to the Supreme Court,” said Wilson.

Parish officials say rules were properly followed, for a project which they could bring dozens of jobs, but others say such industrial development is not appropriate for the North Shore.

“People are concerned about development but you ain’t seen nothing yet,” said Simon.

The Audobon Society says it will appeal.

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