St. James considers expanding Planning Commission

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2012

By robin shannon


VACHERIE — The St. James Parish Council will consider an ordinance that would add two new voting members to the parish Planning Commission. The measure was proposed Wednesday at the council’s meeting in Vacherie.

If approved, the ordinance would allow Parish President Timmy Roussel and the Volunteer Firemen’s Association of St. James Parish to nominate one member each to serve on the commission. This would increase the number of voting members on the board from seven to nine, according to the ordinance. The other voting members come from each of the seven council districts.

At present, the parish code of ordinances states that the parish president may only appoint either himself or an administrative employee to serve as a non-voting member. The new ordinance would amend the code to allow Roussel to appoint himself or a representative as a non-voting member but would not allow parish council members to serve as non-voting members.

The proposed measure also gives authority to parish school board members to nominate an administrative employee to be seated as a non-voting member of the Planning Commission. The current ordinance only allows elected School Board members to serve as non-voting representatives.

The Planning Commission serves as the guide for future growth and development in the parish. It makes recommendations to the parish council that include adding and removing streets, plotting subdivisions and proposing drainage projects.

The Firemen’s Association has lobbied for a seat on the Planning Commission for several months, saying they wanted to offer input on the parish’s future growth in fire services. The initiative was part of a recent assessment of the parish’s volunteer fire system.

Parish Director of Operations Jody Chenier said any new appointees to the commission must have parish council approval.

In other action, the council will also consider an ordinance to authorize the parish to raise solid waste collection and disposal fees in the parish. Roussel said Waste Management LLC, the parish’s garbage contractor, recently raised its per customer fee by 50 cents as a result of an increase in the Consumer Price Index. He said the parish is covering half the cost but must pass the remainder on to the customer. The move would raise garbage collection fees from $6.50 per month to $6.75 per month.

Public hearings on the proposed ordinances are scheduled for April 4 in Convent and April 18 in Vacherie. Both public hearings are set for 6:15 p.m.