MC begins procedure of condemning stores
By: GEOFFREY STOUTE
MORGAN CITY — The city has begun the process to condemn a portion of the Guarisco-Evans Shopping Center, and if no action is taken by the owner at an upcoming public hearing, the building will be demolished and the cost will be added to the property owner’s annual tax bill.
Mayor Tim Matte notified the city council that, in accordance with the city’s derelict buildings’ ordinance, the property owner — Anthony Guarisco Jr. of Baton Rouge — has been notified, via mail, that the city plans to condemn the area of the shopping center between Mike’s Flooring & Paint and Medicine Shoppe.
The part of the property in question is vacant.
As per city ordinance, Guarisco was given 10 days notice that a special council meeting is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 8, to take up any appeal by Guarisco.
If he does not take any action during the meeting, the city will proceed with soliciting bids for a contractor to demolish a section of the building and will tag the price on to Guarisco’s annual property tax bill.
The areas in question, which Matte said have been inspected by health, fire and building officials, is between the Medicine Shoppe and Mike’s Flooring.
During the past two years, Matte said the city has tried to work with Guarisco to remedy complaints from customers about the facility to no avail.
The major problem, Matte said, is the building is exposed to weather because its roof has collapsed.
“Naturally, weather getting into a building like that is going to increase the rate of deterioration of the entire thing,” he said.
Matte noted at some times there was “virtually no response” from Guarisco, while at other times, the city has taken down an awning that was a hazard and boarded up windows on the facility.
Matte said vagrants have been in the facility, too.
In other action, the council:
—Adopted ordinances related to net metering and motor vehicles on public streets during torrential downpours of rain. Both — along with an ordinance for the city’s 2012 budget, which the council deferred passing until after a budget workshop is held — generated no comments during a public hearing.
—Approved a resolution for resubmission to the state requesting Capital Outlay funding for about $30.68 million in projects, including the Lake End Parkway cabins, drainage and water system improvements, lighting on the E.J. “Lionel” Grizzaffi U.S. 90 bridge and a longtime request for construction of a bridge from Morgan City to Avoca Island. Specifically, Matte said the water system improvements include the rebuilding of a clearwell, which holds finished, cleansed water.
—Learned from Matte in his Louisiana Energy and Power Authority report that the environmental site plan for the proposed power plant in Morgan City has been complete and has been submitted to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality where it is being reviewed.
—Matte also reported that the federal regulations on the amount of power that can be produced in Louisiana are anticipated to be somewhat more lenient than more stringent requirements originally anticipated. The more stringent requirements could have affected the amount of power available to the state and individual communities.
—Approved a request by the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival and Cypress Corvette Club to hold their annual car show on Dec. 3 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. under the E.J. “Lionel” Grizzaffi U.S. 90 bridge from Front Street to Federal Avenue. The event will feature a food vendor as well as space for a disc jockey. The event was rescheduled because of Tropical Storm Lee’s threat on the area during the festival.
—Directed Matte to request further study from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development on a proposed crosswalk from Teche Regional Medical Center to medical facilities across La. 70, citing concerns for safety because the proposed crosswalk is close to a traffic light at La. 70’s junction with Victor II Boulevard. The idea, along with a sidewalk south of La. 70 near the medical facilities, was proposed by a group of physicians who work at Teche as well as these facilities.
—Learned from Finance Director Deborah Garber that the city had favorable variances of $487,900 and $47,100, respectively in its General and Ancillary and Sanitation and Sewer accounts, and an unfavorable variance of $255,300 in its Utility Fund. The Utility Fund amount is about 50 percent better than last month’s total, Garber said.
—Introduced an ordinance to amend its 2011 budget to reflect actual revenues and expenditures as well as an ordinance related to the implementation of a three-tenths percent sales tax for road improvements. Voters will decide the fate of the tax proposal on Nov. 19. Early voting for the election will be held Nov. 5-12. Matte encouraged voters to familiarize themselves with what the tax will provide them.
—Approved a request by Morgan City Main Street to hold “Atchafalaya: Friend or Foe” on Nov. 10 from 5-9 p.m. in downtown Morgan City. The free event will feature displays from various floods on the Atchafalaya as well as retail shopping at various department stores and food samples from various downtown restaurants. Mike Lowe, operations manager for the Atchafalaya Basin for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will provide a presentation on how Morgan City is affected by floods and the mechanisms that are in place to control water flow.
—Approved a request by St. Mary Parish Chamber of Commerce President Donna Meyer and Don Tellman to hold a cooking competition under the E.J. “Lionel” Grizzaffi U.S. 90 bridge on July 13-14, 2012. Tellman said organizers are hoping to bring at least 25 participants to the event, which will act as a fundraiser for the chamber and other local charities in conjunction with possibly a car show and 5K run. Matte said the city would set a price for campers who will be participating similar to what is charged for the Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.
—Expanded the agenda to pass a resolution of respect for the late H.V. “Choo Choo” Fondren, a former local official and Morgan City resident.