Monday, June 17, 2013
When David Laborde purchased 36 acres along the Vermilion Parish coastline in 2006, his idea was to transform the property, located south of Abbeville, into a waterfront development.
After a nearly seven-year struggle — the process didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated — Laborde’s idea has turned into the Le Virage Marina, and by the time this month’s ABiz hits stands, construction on the first of the waterfront development’s 28 planned cottages (more like homes away from home) will have begun.
Laborde, a Lafayette attorney, says when he and co-developer David Bollman purchased the acreage on the east bank of the Vermilion River, they were immediately faced with countless hurdles, a result of the property being designated a federal wetland and a state coastal zone.
“We had to deal with all the permitting requirements of both the [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers and the state [Office of Coastal Management],” says Laborde. “The process was real difficult.”
Laborde started by hiring an archeologist to determine whether the land had ever been inhabited by Native Americans, which would have put a stop to the project so as not to disturb any remnants or artifacts. After none was discovered, Laborde then had to hire a consulting firm to conduct a needs assessment to determine, well, if there was a need in the area for such a development. Then came the permitting process, first with the Corps and then the state. The whole process from start to finish, says Laborde, took about five years.
“We got through the permitting processes with the Corps and the state, but in the end, they limited us to developing only 10 acres initially because of the coastal zone and wetlands designations,” Laborde adds.
Also included in the process was the Vermilion Parish Police Jury, but Laborde says getting approval from local officials to relinquish an old right-of-way on the property was perhaps the easiest task he encountered.
“There were lots of restrictions, lots of mitigation fees for us even to disturb the soil, which all proved more of a challenge than we expected,” says Laborde. “The parish even had an old right-of-way, but they gladly removed it. All the delay caused mostly by the Corps actually allowed us to get municipal water out there thanks to a federal grant the Vermilion Parish Water District had just received, which prompted them to run water into that area. They finished running water lines about six months ago, so our residents will have municipal water as opposed to well water.”
In addition to municipal water, Sylvia McLain, Realtor for the development, says residents also will enjoy Internet, cable, street lights and on-site access to fuel.
“There’s a private fueling station specific to the development so people won’t have to haul fuel in or go really far out to get gas,” says McLain.
McLain says the development is architecturally controlled by a homeowners association, meaning no mobile or moveable homes, and among its features are a boardwalk stretching the entire waterfront along with private boat slips and bulkheads for each lot.
“It’s a quaint little subdivision, not overpriced and high-end, more like cottage-type homes,” says McLain. “You can also get into a canoe, and go across the river to Palmetto State Park. And it’s only about seven miles from the campsite to Vermilion Bay, which makes for a really nice boat ride.
Prices range between $60,000 and $100,000, and so far, McLain says three of Le Virage’s 28 lots — 23 waterfront — have been sold.
“I expect we’ll start seeing completion of the camps by the end of summer and early fall,” she says.