Objections aside, Corps Oks fleeting permit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 24, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / June 24, 2000

DESTREHAN – Flying in the face of local objections, the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers approved a barge fleeting permit for a 62-barge fleet of the Herbert D. Hughes Estate Trust.Corps spokesman John Hall said due consideration was given to the objections made by local residents and the St. Charles Parish Council, andadded the concession was made to trim the original application from 144 to 62 barges.

The site, near Brown’s Curve in Destrehan, is close to historic Ormond Plantation, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church and DestrehanPlantation. Fleeting operations had taken place in the area in the 1970sand with St. Rose Fleeting until March 1994.In a Feb. 1, 1999 letter, the Coast Guard objected, saying the fleet wouldbe “an unacceptable hazard to navigation.” However, after a July 13, 1999meeting with several organizations, including the Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association, the objections were withdrawn.

The State Historic Preservation Office had no objection, saying the operation would have no adverse impact on the historic sites. However,the parish council sent repeated objections between February and June 1999.

The Steamship Association of Louisiana voiced an objection on Jan. 22,1999, but after that July 13 meeting, also withdrew.

Originally, the 144 barges were to be handled in 18 tiers, not to exceed eight barges wide. However, later modification reduced it to 62 barges.Public objections were numerous. Brown’s Curve is one of the sharpest inthe river and long considered dangerous. Noise, dust and the possibility ofhazardous releases also threaten the neighborhood, as well as loudspeakers using harsh language, spotlights and the potential of damage to the levee itself.

District 3 Councilwoman Darnell “Dee” Abadie commented, “It’s very frustrating.”She met with officials in the Corps’ New Orleans District office on May 12 and repeated most of the above objections, as well as her beautification project in the same area.

Abadie said she does plan to contact the congressional delegation, including Sen. Landrieu and Breaux, to see if there’s any way this can beoverturned.

“It’s most distressing,” she concluded. “What’s the point of asking forcomments when you don’t consider them.”

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