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Planning director loses argument

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 16, 1998

EDGARD – St. John Planning and Zoning Director Laurette Thymes angrilydefended her interpretation of planning laws before the Parish Council Tuesday but lost her argument.

“If you don’t believe my interpretation, then I don’t belong in this position,” Thymes declared, upset that the parish government would accept the word of “a mere constituent” over hers.

“Our job is to work for these constituents,” Councilman Steve Thornton commented dryly. “If you want to be put on the spot, run for officesometime.”The matter had been coming to a head for several weeks. The prospectivehomeowners, who asked not to be identified, wanted to build on Country Club Drive. However, Rose Combs, who lives next door to the property inquestion, successfully blocked the construction by pointing out a parish ordinance which restricts side-yard clearance to 10 feet on one lot facing five feet on the adjoining lot.

The layout of the prospective construction would have placed two 5-foot sideyards facing each other.

“There’s nothing new going on here,” Thymes pointed out, and claimed many houses in the same neighborhood were built the same way. “Thepermit should never have been voided.”Councilman Steve Thornton visited the site and saw “no compelling reason” than for the parish to take the action it did in voiding the building permit.

Thymes continued the ordinance requires only a plot plan of the lot in question, not of surrounding properties. “It’s very unrealistic to demandplot plans of surrounding lots.”Developer Randy Noel of REVE Inc. said the configuration would have beenthe only one in the neighborhood. “They’ve issued permits like that before,but not any in this neighborhood.”He added the customer wanted a garage on the opposite side of the house, which set up having two 5-foot sideyards together on one side. Noel gavethe customer a copy of the parish ordinance against the practice but they wanted the building permit application submitted that way, regardless.

“I was kinda surprised they issued it,” Noel added.

Combs spoke to the Parish Council meeting, and said when she came by Thymes’ office, she was treated rudely. Combs also passed a petition inthe neighborhood to block construction of the new house.

“This should’ve been resolved immediately,” Combs said. “I don’t wantanyone else to have to go through this.”Parish attorney Charles Lorio admitted the ordinance “has some ambiguity,” and he was directed to review it for possible amendment.

Meanwhile, Noel said, the customer was simply relocated to another side where their desired house plan could be built and the property in question will be re-sold. “It’s no big deal,” he observed.

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