Parish council considers coastal permits request
A resolution in support of an expedited permitting process on coastal restoration projects was presented to the St. Mary Parish Council in regular session Wednesday.
P.J. Hahn, Plaquemines Parish director of coastal zone management, appeared before the council with the resolution in regard to funds from BP as a result of the oil spill last year.
Hahn said the resolution will be given to Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, for suggestions to President Obama on use of the funds.
“We are losing the battle on coastal restoration and we are never going to make any changes unless we make changes to the way projects are done,” Hahn said. “The average coastal restoration project takes four years (to begin work) and we have some in our parish that took 12 years in the permitting process.”
He said the resolution defines a permitting process similar to the one used in Plaquemines to build sand berms to keep the spilled oil away from the coastline. The parish was able to obtain that permit in 19 days, he added.
“We feel that the planning and the coastal restoration should be done … with more local input than we have right now,” he said.
The council agreed to review the resolution and place it on its next meeting agenda on Aug. 24 for consideration.
The council also heard from Julia Castle of the BP Gulf Coast Restoration Organization with updated figures on cleanup and restoration allocations.
In St. Mary, she said, almost $4.8 million has been paid out on 280 claims.
She also talked about the Geaux Fish tournament being sponsored by BP, the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Charter Boat Association.
She said 50 tagged speckled trout have been released in waters from Breton Sound to Lake Calcasieu. Prizes total $275,000 that include one fish with a $250,000 grand prize, three $5,000 cash prizes, a 2011 Ford F-150 Supercab and a 2011 Blazer Bay 2170 boat and trailer.
Participants can register for the contest online at www.geauxfish2011.com, she said.
In other business the council:
—Introduced ordinances on a right-of-way agreement with the city on the Yokely Bayou project in Franklin, and amendment of the current fiscal year budget.
—Passed resolutions on an architectural service agreement with Firmin Architects Ltd. on the public buildings projects; and a change order on the south apron rehab project at Harry P. Williams Memorial Airport.
—Reappointed Ronald J. Chillis to the Fire Protection District 11 board and Dorothy M. Gabriel and Carolyn Hoskins-Traylor to the Sorrell Community Park Advisory Committee.