Tregre questions legality of special meeting

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 1999

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / August 24, 1999

HAHNVILLE – A special meeting is set Thursday at 6 p.m. by the St. CharlesParish Council, but Parish President Chris Tregre says the whole thing is improper and could jeopardize several parish projects.

The meeting was called by council chairman Terry Authement to finish the lengthy agenda from the Aug. 16 meeting. Authement insists the specialmeeting date was selected so the parish can properly advertise the 12 pending ordinances.

Tregre argued that the ordinances left over, persons to address the council, resolutions and appointments, all on the Aug. 16 agenda, can’t beproperly carried over to a special meeting, according to the council’s own rules.

According to the council rules, any business not concluded at the curfew time shall be carried over to the next regularly-scheduled council meeting. That next regular meeting is set Sept. 7.In a letter to parish attorney Randy Lewis, Tregre commented: “It is my position that the council has a fixed time and place to adjourn an incomplete agenda, established by Council Rule 1. The only way to deviatefrom Rule 1 would be to first suspend their rules, followed by a motion to fix a time and place to which they will adjourn, before they adjourn the initial session.”All of which means, Tregre added, Thursday’s special council meeting has nothing on the agenda.

Not so, insists Authement, who said the council re-advertised the ordinances as mandated. “I’m of the belief we’re doing it right.”Tregre claims should the ordinances advertised at the Aug. 16 meeting betaken up and acted upon Thursday, without proper notice to the involved parties, it could leave the parish open to lawsuits.

Among those ordinances are a $305,000 construction contract for the Paul Maillard Road/Boutte Canal crossing project, a $1.5 million constructioncontract for the Ama Pump Station, an $858,000 construction contract for the Killona Pump Station and a $100,000 change order increase for the Davis/Barton drainage improvements.

Authement said the council followed its own charter and rules by re- advertising the pending ordinances two times prior to the special meeting and nothing is jeopardized.

Also pending is the veto override vote on Tregre’s veto of an ordinance directing Tregre to accept the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer alignment ofthe West Bank Hurricane Protection Levee. Tregre has continued to lobbythe council members to support his veto while he continues to negotiate a different alignment.

However, that item is not on the special meeting agenda as, according to the home rule charter, it must be taken up at a regular meeting.

In other matters taken up at the Aug. 16 meeting, a re-zoning shuffle onthe Ashton Plantation Estates development drew Councilman Ellis Alexander to question the entire project.

The issue was the rezoning of two parcels of land on either side of the planned access road to the new subdivision, with all commercial zoning on one side and all residential on the other.

Alexander took the opportunity to question the entire project, insisting this was the council’s “last opportunity” to put the brakes on the planned 2,000 new homes.

He questioned impact on drainage, demands on the sewer and water systems and even the social impact of 2,000 new homes on the adjoining Luling area, then moved to table the zoning matter.

That was denied in a 7-2 vote, Alexander supported only by Councilman Curtis Johnson. Then the rezoning was approved by the same 7-2 vote.The parish council meeting adjourned following discussion of the Bayou Fleet environmental topic.

Also on Aug. 16, the Parish Council: Heard a report from Cox Cable representative Steve Sawyer. Parishcouncilman G. “Ram” Ramchandran quizzed Sawyer on the recent systemupgrade and sporadic cable outages.

Sawyer said that was standard to have service interruptions while upgrades are in progress.

Heard a report from Retired Senior Volunteer Program director Fay Caire. RSVP has been in operation in the River Parishes for 23 years and,during 1998, its 804 volunteers performed 115,757 hours of service.

Those volunteers range in age from 55 to its oldest volunteer, who will turn 100 in October. Currently, RSVP has 824 volunteers who haveperformed 64,855 hours of service from January through June 1999.

Accepted a driveway as a public road near Ormond Plantation House. Thatacceptance of the present driveway, which serves a nearby restaurant, will permit property owners to develop four lots as residential lots.

Parish attorney Randy Lewis objected, stating that acceptance of the street would violate parish standards and leave the parish open to liability. Parish councilman Brian Champagne suggested a compromise, inleaving the street private but having a gated community instead.

Developer Paul Murray said the roadway, built in 1982, exceeds parish road construction standards and has never suffered an accident, despite being only 18 feet wide and winding among oak trees.

The road was accepted in an 8-1 vote, with only Champagne voting against it.

Approved a cooperative agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources, which awards the parish $18,000 in state funds for the annual Christmas tree project. In that project, used Christmas trees are acceptedand placed in cribs in the LaBranche Wetlands to stablize and restore the shoreline.

Voted to grant members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment a $40 per diem. This was approved in a 6-3 vote, with councilmen Authement, DickieDuhe and Barry Minnich against the action.

Accepted the act of dedication for Primrose Estates Subdivision, which adjoins Coronado Park and will be behind the planned Wal-Mart development in Boutte. This is a 73-acre subdivision on a 25-acre tract,under development by J.B. Levert Land Co. of Luling.This was approved in a 6-3 vote, with Minnich, Alexander and Dee Abadie voting against it.

Approved a $200,300 contract to install a new generator for the Luling Water Plant. Picciola Construction Co. was the successful bidder out ofsix submitted.

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