Charter amendments go to voters; Unified Development Code tabled

Voters will have their say on term limits and pay raises for the St. Mary Parish Council on Nov. 4.
The council unanimously adopted three ordinances Wednesday on Home Rule Charter amendments that would set council term limits to three consecutive four-year terms regardless of the office being held in single member or at-large districts; an increase in single member pay from $450 to $750 a month and at-large pay from $800 to $1,100 a month; and an increase in the parish president’s salary from $12,000 per year to $36,000.
Current term limits are set at two, but do not restrict council members from serving two terms in either a single-member seat or at-large seat followed by two terms in the other.
The ordinances that required approval by two-thirds of the council passed on nine votes in favor and two absent — Charles Middleton and Tim Tregle — without discussion.
Another ordinance up for adoption was tabled after a group of businessmen requested as much as 60 days to review the proposed Unified Development Code.
They got 28 days until the council’s first meeting in March on the 12th.
Asking for the delay were Monty Cornes, Greg Cornes and Steven Cornes as well as an attorney for Monty Cornes, Thomas Dupont.
Chief Administrative Officer Henry “Bo” LaGrange explained that the code consolidates ordinances already on the books that regulate zoning, subdivision and development, mobile homes and mobile home parks, floodplain administration, airport zoning and bunk houses.
“What we did was take all those ordinances and merge them into one unified development code so that developers or people who want to develop or expand can go to one document and it’s all right there,” LaGrange said. “That’s probably 85 percent of what’s in the code.”
In response to the Cornes’ comments on the ordinance being rushed, LaGrange said a comprehensive zoning ordinance update committee held three meetings over the past two years. The meetings included council members as well as municipal leaders and a representative of Miller Engineers and Associates, he said. Also, he said, changes in the proposed ordinance in response to concerns by the St. Mary Industrial Group and newspaper publisher Allan Von Werder have been made.
The code also adds a section on traditional neighborhood developments similar to that of River Ranch in Lafayette.
Also, three existing neighborhood sub-districts are introduced in lieu of mixed residential zones.
Council Chairman Steve Bierhorst said the document would “make it easier for this parish to deal with the new growth.”
Councilman David Hanagriff added that the delay in adoption would allow for further tweaking if deemed necessary.
In other discussion, the council assured Marjorie Gause of Amelia that they will consult with PHI Helicopters after she complained that constant low overhead flight paths during landings and takeoffs from the facility have caused severe damage to her new mobile home.
The council also:
—Adopted ordinances declaring certain real property as surplus; approving a zoning change at 1453 and 1473 Siracusa Road, Siracusa, from a conservation zone to heavy industrial; and granting a specific use permit at 24311 and 24351 Levee Road, Charenton, for a 21-lot recreational vehicle park.
—Introduced ordinances on a lease agreement with St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church of Bayou Vista for property to be used for the purpose of conducting youth recreation programs, and an agreement to amend permanent levee servitude with JMB Partnership LLC, Gavilon Midstream Energy LLC and the St. Mary Levee District.
—Passed resolutions on the 2013 Louisiana Compliance Questionnaire; endorsement of participation in the Enterprise Zone Program by MK Dixon Funeral Home; a cooperative endeavor agreement with the state on recreational and infrastructure improvements at Centerville Park; an agreement with GMW Medical P.C. on medical director services at Claire House; a certificate of substantial completion on improvements at the West End Solid Waste Pickup Station; a change order with Berry Bros. General Contractors, Inc. on the Atchafalaya River Wharf replacement project in Berwick; a contract with the lowest bidder on improvements at the Blevins Building; a contract with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on the Black Bear Conflict Management Program; a change order with LA Contracting Enterprise LLC on roadway and drainage improvements on Labau, Jolivette, Ninth and 10th streets in Baldwin; and a maintenance agreement on the FHWA Recreational Trails Program for Louisiana Grant.
—Waived the open container law for the Krewe of Cypremort Sippers Mardi Gras parade on March 1.

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