In A Flash

Court halts rezoning for massive St. John grain elevator project

By: - November 15, 2023 5:00 am
A view of a vacant courtroom toward the judge's bench

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Opponents of a major industrial project in the River Parishes have scored a win in court. 

A state judge on Monday ordered the St. John the Baptist Planning Commission to halt any rezoning of residential land where a company is trying to build a massive grain terminal.

Judge Nghana Lewis of the 40th Judicial District Court in Edgard issued a preliminary injunction against Greenfield Louisiana, which plans to build a $400 million grain elevator complex in the historic Black community around the Whitney Plantation in Wallace. Plans include 54 grain silos and a conveyor more than 300 feet tall less than a half-mile from the plantation.

Lewis issued the order at the request of the Descendants Project, a local advocacy that works to preserve the health and land of the legacy Black community in Louisiana’s River Parishes. The organization, led by twin sisters Jo and Joy Banner, has fought to stop the influx of heavy industry in their community.

The grain elevator site in question has had a controversial history of zoning changes. It was switched from residential to heavy industrial in 1990 as the result of the parish president being involved in a racketeering scheme that would have placed a chemical plant there, according to reporting from The Times-Picayune.

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Wesley Muller
Wesley Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots to 1997 when, at age 13, he built a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. Since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune and worked on staff at WAFB/CBS, the Sun Herald and the Enterprise-Journal, winning awards from the SPJ, Associated Press, Mississippi Press Association and McClatchy. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Muller is a New Orleans native, Jesuit High School alumnus, University of New Orleans alumnus and a U.S. Army veteran and former paratrooper. He lives in Southeast Louisiana with his two sons and wife.