Residents sound off on Sasol rezoning & road closures - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Residents sound off on Sasol rezoning & road closures

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

As they prepare for their multi-billion dollar expansion, Sasol went before the Calcasieu Parish Planning and Zoning Board to request the property be rezoned to heavy industrial.

Despite offering to make some major infrastructure improvements to transportation, water and sewerage in the Mossville area, nearby residents who haven't been bought out have concerns.

"What's going to happen to their property value because some people legitimately do not want to leave the area," said Vera, concerned resident.

"Rezoning these sights to heavy industrial would subject residents to a decline in quality of life," said Ronald Carrier, concerned resident.

Carrier was asked to step down and had to be escorted from the podium by a sheriff's deputy after exceeding his time limit.

The project and process is a huge undertaking. A request was made to defer making any decisions for 45 days.

"We need to take a look at it and understand it. There's no rush to do this. Last I heard they didn't even have the money yet. So there is no rush to do it," said Charlie Atherton, concerned resident.

Several roads in the Mossville area were also up to be closed or partially abandoned because they will be in the middle of a 3,000 acre industrial complex. However, one major roadway area residents said they can't live without is Evergreen Road.

"You cannot afford to close Evergreen Road. If you block us in - anything can happen with these plants," said Victoria Guy, concerned resident. "This is how I get to Sulphur and Moss Bluff. We need this road to stay open."

The proposal to partially close Evergreen Road was a public safety issue because of the amount of heavy industrial traffic that will be in the area once construction begins. 

"Your minds are set on money-making. You forget about the souls of the people. You forget about the living of a person. You can't do that. Who does that," said Guy.

The Planning and Zoning Board unanimously rezoned the area to heavy industrial, but chose to keep Evergreen Road open until the Coach Williams Drive extension from Old Spanish Trail to Houston River Road is complete. Sasol is expected to contribute 10-million dollars to the project, but it's not expected to be complete for another two to three years.

"The board acted in a way they though was best for the public. And what we are going to do is go back and re-evaluate how can we do our construction and how can we protect public safety with Evergreen Road open," said Mike Hayes, Sasol. "We are also going to see if we can expedite the Coach Williams Road project. There are several issues with moving that project along, but we are going to do our best to expedite it."

All of Tuesday night's recommendations will be up for final vote this Thursday, May 22, at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury's regular meeting.

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