Curbs on trailered boats proposed in Morgan City

MORGAN CITY, La. -- Restrictions on where Morgan City residents can park boats on trailers was one of the major concerns Tuesday night during a presentation of the latest draft of the Zoning and Land Development Code.

“One of the real purposes of this meeting tonight is to take suggestions and make changes to lead us to some kind of conclusion,” Mayor Tim Matte said.

“For the past several meetings, there have been recommendations, reviews, about what we want to see with this code. What our consultants, Kendig Keast Collaborative, have done is take all this information and put it in the form of a code.”

The draft code is available on the city’s website by going to the “City Government” tab and then clicking on “Planning & Zoning” and then scrolling to the bottom to finding “ZLDC Final.”

Matt Bucchin of Kendig Keast said, “About concerns about people’s recreational vehicles parked all over the place, parked in their front yards, permanently parked on sidewalks, chained to light poles, we added provisions that are now a matter of discussion if they are right for Morgan City.”

The trailered boats in residential districts would not be allowed to be parked for more than 14 days unless they are stored within a carport or enclosure or screened by a six-foot wall or opaque fence located behind the front building line, Bucchin said.

Lee Dragna, a candidate for mayor, asked if a regular boat owner who did not own a covered area would be in violation of the code if he backed his boat into his driveway.

“Yes,” the mayor, Bucchin, and others said.

“You think that’s going to go over well? I mean, think about it, there’s a skiff on every roof,” Dragna said.

District 4 councilman Luke Manfre told Dragna, “We are trying to get rid of that.”

“Oh, really?” Dragna said. “You’re going to get rid of normal people with skiffs in their yards?”

“We’re trying to clean them up,” Manfre said.

“That’s the purpose of this is to try to clean up some of this. If you want to leave it like it is, we can leave it like it is,” Manfre said.

“If you don’t want it, we won’t do it. It’s no problem. If you want to have boats in the street and all over, that’s the purpose of this thing, to make the city look better.”

Dragna replied, “I agree with it not being on the street or on the sidewalk, but if you have to put it behind a six-foot wall, that’s impractical.”

District 5 councilman Lou Tamporello said, “We have that provision in our existing ordinances, but the problem is enforcing it because there are so many of them.”

Morgan City resident Pat Cloutier mentioned the problem with how Hurricane Isaac recently knocked down boat-shielding residential fences that were compliant with the code.

“Y’all better think about what you’re doing about the cost of living in Morgan City,” he said. “Make no mistake about it, you’re competing for residents, and if you make it too expensive to live here, you’re going to be defeating your purpose.”

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

The boat trailer restriction is appropriate for the downtown area, Matte said. “It’s been a source of complaint by many residents. There’s no provision made on the individual’s property for housing the boat or the recreational vehicle.”

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