St. John’s ‘gaming’ stops face stiffer regulations

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – In an effort to create some uniformity as to what truck stop terminals featuring gaming facilities in the parish look like and where they can be placed, the St. John Council unanimously approved an ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting that imposes stricter regulations.

Mike Henderson, a consultant for St. John Planning and Zoning, said the measure adds changes to the existing truck stop ordinance, which was described as “open” and “vague” by administration members.

“The only regulation in the old ordinance is zoning,” Henderson told the council. “The administration had asked for more restrictions in addition to what is required by the state.”

St. John Public Information Officer Buddy Boe described the new ordinance as a “house cleaning measure” for any future truck stop development in the parish. The measure was proposed on the heels of a new truck stop being built along Airline Highway in Reserve. Boe said the ordinance would not affect construction, since the company had already filed the proper permits.

According to the new ordinance, truck stop terminals in St. John Parish may only be placed on major arteries with a minimum of four roadway lanes. The road must also be divided by a median.

The ordinance sets a minimum lot size of 10 acres, and mandates that the terminal must have a separate trucker’s lounge, a full service laundry facility, private showers for men and women, a travel store with trucker supplies and separate telephones.

Boe also said the ordinance sets specifications on what the facility can look like. He said it creates a uniform look, but allows for some fluctuation.

“We’re just trying to avoid having a developer create a small steel building that has some gaming machines in it,” Boe said.

Before votes were cast, District 7 Councilwoman Cheryl Millet commended the administration for looking into the regulations, saying it is a good thing for the parish.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see truck stops on every corner in the parish,” said Millet.

In other action from Tuesday’s meeting, the council approved an administrative request to solicit proposals for a parish-wide telecommunications system for all government buildings.

Boe said the parish is looking for a more sophisticated communication system between parish entities so that residents in the parish can conduct government business in a more efficient fashion.

“The system would allow callers to be transferred from department to department without having to hang up and dial a new number,” said Boe. “It just makes business easier.

Boe said the communications system would link the offices of the parish president, sheriff, clerk of court, and district attorney. He said surrounding parishes, such as St. Charles, St. James, and St. Tammany, use a similar system with great success.