St. Charles erecting cell tower in Ormond

Published 11:45 pm Friday, July 25, 2014

HAHNVILLE — Residents in the Ormond area of St. Charles Parish may soon enjoy improved cell phone service.

On Monday night the parish council approved a zoning change that will allow AT&T to build a 185-foot tower on the grounds of Hill Heights Country Club on Murray Drive in Destrehan, located near Ormond Boulevard.

“There’s been a huge increase in mobile data consumption,” New Orleans attorney Chip Lyons told the council, as he outlined the plans for the tower.

Lyons cited figures that showed 40 percent of residences no longer have land lines and noted the usage of electronic tablets has increased by 66 percent in the past year and is projected to take another significant hike this year.

“There is reason to improve coverage in the area,” Lyons said. “We have to put (a tower) near where the demand is. If we put it in an unpopulated area, it won’t do any good.”

The property in question was zoned C-2, but the council approved a change to OL, which allows for a cell tower. The previous zoning was more lenient regarding the types of businesses that could be established at the location, but a cell tower was prohibited.

“(Downzoning) will make it more restrictive but will allow a cell tower,” Lyons said, adding the nearest neighbor is 350 feet away.

Lyons and council members said they heard no opposition from neighbors.

In other council news, members approved an intergovernmental agreement between the parish and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority for an additional $2 million of shore protection in the East LeBranche area.

Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said there was funding left over from the original project but it could only be used in that area and not on another parish restoration project.

• A lengthy debate over grass cutting only led to tabling a resolution proposed by council member Paul Hogan that would have petitioned state legislators Gary Smith and Gregory Miller to author a bill that would allow the parish to enforce stricter measures regarding overgrown properties. Currently, the property owner is served with a certified letter and is given 15 days to cut the grass.

Hogan said the process is too cumbersome and should be more restrictive.

St. Pierre countered the current policy is effective and that since each legislator is only allowed to present five bills per session, they have more important issues to address rather than grass cutting. Although council chairman Julia Fisher-Perrier called the policy “adequate,” she added there are “serial violators” throughout the parish.

“High grass in Louisiana is a bad deal,” she said. “Sometimes I get calls quite often. (Violators) need to be responsible enough to abide to what the rules are.”

There was some question regarding the legal language in the resolution so Hogan opted to have it tabled.