St. James master plan meetings continue

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

By Monique Roth

CONVENT – All St. James Parish residents are highly encouraged to attend informational meetings on the parish’s proposed comprehensive master plan.

Over the past three years, the Planning Committee has taken measures to prepare a plan for the future growth of St. James Parish. The master plan proposes measures aimed at directing the parish’s growth over the next two decades. Key areas of the plan include economic development, improving infrastructure and minimizing land use conflicts between residents and industry.

The plan is now in its final stages, and the Parish Council has requested that informational meetings be available to residents to give them an opportunity to see the proposed plan and ask questions that they may have about moving St. James forward.

The St. James Council held its first meeting of 2014 on Jan. 8, and discussed in length how the meetings were going so far.

Parish Assistant Director of Operations Blaise Gravois conducts the meetings, and told the Council that so far they had been well attended and that residents had good questions and input.

The remaining informational meetings will take place on Jan. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Belmont Fire Station, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. at the St. James Welcome Senior Center, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. at the Lutcher Senior Center, Jan. 23 at 2 p.m. at the Convent Courthouse and Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. at the Vacherie Courthouse Annex.

The Council will wait to vote on the plan until all informational meetings take place and all public input is heard.

Prior to the start of the meeting, the Council held a public hearing for and discussed the ordinance introduced late last year that proposed to prohibit the use of unmuffled compression brakes, which can produce loud and screeching noises, on River Road from the Sunshine Bridge to the Union-Convent Fire Station.

In its meeting this week, the Council voted unanimously to amend the ordinance to include all state highways in the parish.

Council members also unanimously elected Councilman Charles Ketchens as Parish Council chairman and Alvin St. Pierre as Parish Council vice chairman.

Also of note at the meeting was the introduction of a proposed ordinance creating a St. James Youth Commission.

Rachel Otis, a senior and the Student Council president at Lutcher High School, is the brainchild behind the proposed commission.

Parish President Timmy Roussel said Otis approached him about the commission, which would allow St. James Parish youth to learn about civil and governmental procedures with a hands-on approach.

Otis addressed members of the Council and told them that this is something that means a lot to her and that she “is ready to change St. James Parish.”

The Council was enthusiastic about Otis’ idea, and a public hearing regarding a vote will be held in early February.

The next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 15 at 6:30 at the Vacherie Courthouse Annex.