Additional seat on planning commission considered

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 18, 2012



VACHERIE – The St. James Parish Council could soon consider a request from the parish’s Firemen’s Association to add a representative from that organization to the parish Planning Commission.

Councilman Ken Brass addressed the topic at Wednesday’s council meeting, saying the request came from Ryan Louque, president of the St. James Firemen’s Association. Louque had said during a Feb. 1 Parish Council meeting that the addition of a volunteer fireman to the planning commission would assist the parish with future fire services planning.

The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the parish council regarding drainage, subdivisions, the addition or removal of streets and planning future growth in the parish. The parish’s code of ordinances allows 10 seats on the Planning Commission – one from each of the parish’s seven council districts, each of whom has voting privileges, one voting member appointed by the parish president, and two nonvoting members.

One of the nonvoting seats is reserved for a representative chosen by the St. James Parish School Board. The health department recommends the other. The school board seat is currently vacant, according to parish officials.

Brass said in order for the council to make a move on an 11th member, two public hearings on the matter must be held before the parish can change the code of ordinances. Brass said he would like for the council to vote on the issue by early May.

If the change is approved, the Firemen’s Association would name a representative, who would have voting privileges.

In other action, the council voted 5-2 in favor of appointing Michelle Nailor Octave as the parish’s director of Human Resources. Alvin St. Pierre, Terry McCreary, James Brazan, Charles Ketchens and Brass voted in favor of the appointment, Jason Amato and Ralph Patin voted against the move. Octave replaces Faye Washington, who was not retained when Parish President Timmy Roussel took over in January.

The council also accepted a $28,550 bid from Cazenave Motor Co. for a Ford Expedition for the Office of the Parish President. Cazenave was the only bidder on the vehicle, which is being paid for with a Homeland Security Grant.

The council also accepted a $347,282 bid from J. Reed Constructors of Baton Rouge for renovations and additions to the St. James Courthouse in Convent. Roussel said the improvements include adding a third floor to the courthouse over the old council chambers and small courtroom on the western side of the building.

The project will add five new offices on the second floor and six new offices on the third floor.

The estimated budget was $495,000.