Councilmen giving laundry list of issues to legislators

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 27, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / February 27, 1999

HAHNVILLE – A laundry list of issues are being brought to the Louisiana Congressional delegation by the St. Charles Parish Council.Seven of the parish’s nine council members are attending the National Association of Counties (NACo) legislative conference through March 2 in Washington D.C. Council members not attending are Bill Sirmon and TerryAuthement.

On the issues list, prepared by Councilman Brian Champagne, are:

Hurricane Protection Project – Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity.

West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee Project.

Bonnet Carre Spillway Master Plan.

FEMA Grandfathering Clause.

Placarding System for Barges.

Repairs to Hale Boggs Bridge.

Added by amendment to the list was adding pumps to the East Bank Hurricane Protection Levee through the Water Resources Act.

Champagne called upon the council to present a united front in bringing these issues to the attention of federal legislators. The resolution passed7-1, with Barry Minnich voting no and Terry Authement absent.

On the East Bank hurricane protection levee, the parish is asking for accelerated funding, which would speed construction progress and benefit St. Charles and Jefferson parishes and the New Orleans InternationalAirport.

On the West Bank hurricane protection levee, the council is asking for mitigation of the wetlands. Mitigation proposed by the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers “will render the project unfeasible for local funding agencies,” according to Champagne’s resolution.

The purpose for the levee is protection of the existing and projected growth of the west bank of the parish. Federal assistance will help savefederal money paid now through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

On the Bonnet Carre Spillway Master Plan, the council is asking for advice in settling conflicts between existing users of the area, provide a comprehensive plan for future use and development, and help in developing a Cajun Cultural Center and Summer Music Festival area.

On the FEMA grandfathering clause, the parish council is asking for legislation to block FEMA from eliminating its grandfathering clause, a clause providing exceptions to new regulations by previously-approved users.

FEMA is considering the deletion of the clause now in existence for flood insurance. This means, Champagne said, that homeowners would no longerbe allowed to use insurance ratings on the basis of the flood zone or base elevation in effect at the time of construction. New homeowner floodinsurance policies would be rated using current flood insurance rate maps and elevation data. Residences and buildings presently insured would notbe affected, unless the policy is allowed to lapse.

The proposed change, Champagne’s resolution said, would be “a national crisis.”

On the placarding system proposed for Mississippi River barge traffic, the parish council is asking for new federal regulations requiring barges, container and cargo ships and other vessels carrying chemicals and other hazardous materials on the river to use a labeling system in order to protect citizens and all emergency responders to any accident, lead or spill.

On the Hale Boggs Bridge repair, the Parish Council is seeking continuing funding for the ongoing repair work of the Interstate 310 bridge, a major highway link in the parish. The funding is made necessary by the epoxyasphalt used on the main deck, which breaks down in time but was used to keep weight distribution down in the bridge’s construction.

During the council meeting, Councilman G. “Ram” Ramchandran attemptedto amend the list to ask for Congressional help in designating the strip of east bank levee from the old Destrehan ferry landing to Carolyn Drive, New Sarpy, as a historic district in an effort to head off possible industrial development in the batture. There was no second to his motion and thematter dropped.

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