Boat-parking restriction proposed for downtown, not city-wide in Morgan City

MORGAN CITY, La. — Continued concerns about possible restrictions on the parking of boats in yards as part of the Zoning & Land Development Code were among the items discussed at the Morgan City council meeting Tuesday evening.

Mayor Tim Matte said “there’s been a lot input” into the boat-parking proposal.

“Based on discussions and feedback that we’ve gotten, I believe it is in the interest of the council not to include that provision to apply throughout the city limits,” he said of the boat-parking restriction. “So, in introducing the ordinance tonight, that would be a proposal that we would change so that it did not apply across the city.”

Matte proposed that the restriction would apply in the downtown area from Front Street to Federal Avenue and from Railroad Avenue to Greenwood, on Second Street south of Terrebonne Street and in Marquis Manor.

Susan Billiot, who lives on North Third Street, said she had initiated a petition against the boat-parking restriction.

Matte told Billiot, “apparently, your conversation with your council members and others’ conversations with their council members put them in a position where they decided that that was not a good provision to apply city-wide. So, the answer is that your work worked. There were citizens who came before us who said they wanted to see a restriction on boats and ATVs parked in yards.”

“Before we can make any changes, we have to have a public hearing, and that is scheduled for Nov. 27. So, we haven’t even gotten to that point yet,” Matte told Billiot.

“I was confused, yes,” Billiot said, “when it came out in the paper that it was written that it was going to be passed, then I started asking about it, and people started complaining, then the story changed that it’s only for new subdivisions.”

The Daily Review reported Oct. 10 that the draft was proposed and discussed in the meeting the night before and that Matte said that “one of the real purposes of this meeting is to take suggestions and make changes to lead us to some kind of conclusion,” but it did not report any action taken on the issue.

“That meeting that we had that night, that was not a regular council meeting,” District 5 Councilman Lou Tamporello told Billiot.

“That was a special council meeting for informational purposes only to put out there a proposal, and that’s all it was, a proposal. It was not to be voted on that night, but it went wild all over that that was going to be voted on and passed that night. This council is not trying to put any hardship on the residents of the town, and we realize that this is a shrimping and fishing town. So, it’s not something that we are trying to do. We are trying to beautify the city, and there are ordinances on the book that need to be enforced, but the meeting that night was strictly for information,” he said to Billiot.

“I understand that now what you are saying,” Billiot said, “but I felt that it should have been stopped that night when it started with Mr. Lee Dragna and let him know this and it wouldn’t have gone this far. So, there needs to be some changes with what the paper is writing so it doesn’t get out of proportion like it did.”

District 1 councilman Tim Hymel then addressed Billiot.

“After the fireworks at the last council meeting, the mayor did say that we would have an opportunity to look at all these things and grandfather in these things,” he said.

The Daily Review reported on Oct. 10 that Matte said that “the way that it’s worded in the zoning proposal is that it is city-wide, but that’s something that we’re going to have to look at.”

Hymel told Billiot Tuesday night, “I think everyone stopped listening once the sparks flew. So, information got out of this council meeting that wasn’t true.”

“If we can’t enforce it the way it’s written, we need to rewrite it,” Hymel said. “I have never gotten a call about a boat in four years. What I get called about are roads, swimming pools, because people don’t cover them, and they become places of breeding.”

“I agree,” Billiot said. “I was upset that this got blown out of proportion. With all of the things that the city needs to clean up, you can’t come after your citizens for a boat.”

Hymel told Billiot that “there was never an intent to do that.”

Matte said that the issue with boats and ATVs is only one of many provisions in the zoning proposal.

“There are some other provisions in here that are dramatic changes,” he said.

“There are some provisions that require businesses to build using architectural means to clean up the business corridor. The one that the paper chose to report on was the one about recreation vehicles. That’s their choice, but, to me, the more significant things that are in here, we have yet to have significant discussions about and get public input on. So, the fact that you are here and the fact that you responded is exactly how the process is supposed to work. The idea was thrown out, and you read it in the paper, which is great, and you said ‘this is something I’m not in favor of’ and you called your council members. That’s how it’s supposed to work,” Matte said.

Billiot replied that “the council and mayor needs to make sure that what the paper writes is correct or do something after they put it out.”

District 2 Councilman Larry Bergeron told Billiot that it is “humanly impossible” to enforce boat-parking restrictions in most of the city.

“I want to congratulate you for doing what you did,” he said. “I know that a rumor was out that we were going to pass this thing last month. An ordinance is introduced in one meeting, and 30 days later, we have a public hearing, and then we pass it at the second meeting. So, that rumor was totally false. It got the community in an uproar, and thank God it did,” Bergeron said.

Later in the meeting, Matte introduced the code to the council.

“Based on your input,” he told the council, “you’re asking that Section 2.2.6 dealing with recreational vehicles would not apply to the entire city. I would like to propose that we apply it to the downtown area, Second Street, and Marquis Manor.”

“This ordinance is just being introduced and is not subject to any action tonight,” Matte said.

“Two weeks from tonight, the Planning & Zoning Commission will take up this same item and will have a public hearing. At that meeting, we’ll invite any comments from the public for or against any of the provisions of the zoning and development code.”

In other business, the council approved all of the finance committee’s recommendations from its Friday meeting:

—$5,819.87 for the purchase of a hydraulic valve exerciser for use in opening and closing the city’s water valves.

—$24,000 over four years for an ebook service for the Morgan City Public Library.

—$1,584 for five Main Street District stop signs and pedestals for the eastern part of Federal Avenue.

—$4,555 for two benches and two planters for the downtown area for Morgan City Main Street.

—$1,890 for the purchase of new bronze plaques (which would include photographs) to replace those on the floodwall marking historic floods.

Front Street resident Pat Cloutier received some new information about the death of the vegetation in his front yard, a problem he had addressed to the council before.

“I was informed that it was the city that herbicided my front yard,” he said of a conversation that he had had with city public works director Michael Loupe.

“Certainly, we didn’t intend to spray in your yard,” Matte told Cloutier. “The intention was to spray in the cracks in the sidewalk and along the seawall. We answered the question truthfully when you asked. I did not realize that they were still doing that spraying.”

Cloutier lives on the unprotected side of the seawall south of Belanger Street

“This is the third time that I’ve had to come to the city and complain about it over several years,” Cloutier said.

“Well, apparently, it didn’t get to the people who were spraying,” Matte told Cloutier.

St. Mary Now & Franklin Banner-Tribune

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Fax: 985-384-4255

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