St. Bernard neighbors say new construction is destroying wetlands

NOTE : there is more to this story than wetlands. Read the background here

After two years of heated protests against mixed-income apartments, St. Bernard Parish issued a building permit this month for the four complexes. Now, people in the parish are protesting again, this time saying the construction is destroying vital wetlands.

“I want them to cease and not build these,” said longtime resident Diane Coleman, who participated in a rally Friday evening near the Frederick Sigur Civic Center in Chalmette.

Neighbors like Dana Arcement said the construction of one of the complexes has destroyed the wetlands that were once in front of her home.

“Any wetland evidence has been deliberately covered up over the last year now,” said Arcement, president of the Chateau Lafitte Homeowner’s Association.

Arcement showed Eyewitness News photos of the property before construction, showing a waterway with ducks. Photos also show what appears to be various stages of wetlands being filled in.

Neighbors said signs were posted around the area, alerting people that the grounds were indeed designated wetlands, but now those signs have replaced by construction equipment.

“They didn’t even want you to go on that land according to the signs, they didn’t even want you to disturb the animals,” said longtime St. Bernard resident Nicholas Cuccia.

Parish President Craig Taffaro said no wetlands permit was filed with the parish. Arcement said the corps told her none was needed. Eyewitness News was unable to confirm because the Corps’ point person was unavailable.

There’s more to this issue than wetlands. For years, neighbors argued the mixed-income apartments would bring down property values. The parish tried to stop construction, but ended up losing a federal lawsuit. And after HUD filed a complaint against the parish’s zoning laws, officials gave the project a greenlight.

Read remainder of the story at WWLTV.

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About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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