Patterson's parking law detours again

By JEAN L. KAESS

PATTERSON — After the city attorney presented research concerning numerous ordinances to the council at its meeting Tuesday and gave several options as to what the council might want to do with those ordinances, town leaders were nowhere closer to being able to adopt the proposed laws than they were three months ago when those ordinances were first discussed.

A 50-minute public hearing — during which little public comment actually was heard — was used to explain the ordinances, present research recently compiled by city attorney Russel Cremaldi, and to allow Cremaldi to present various scenarios concerning the individual laws.

The most controversial, and perhaps most confusing, proposed law is the ordinance to change parking on public streets in Patterson.

Currently, parking is permitted on any street at any time, unless the city council specifically prohibits such action. The ordinance, as presented in November, flips that law in reverse.

However, during the meeting, Cremaldi presented to the council four packets of ordinances currently on the books that deal with parking in Patterson. They are in the areas of traffic, zoning, flood damage prevention and a subdivision ordinance concerning off-street parking.

One of the ordinances already on the books accommodates parking on the streets of the city and requires that enough of a street’s roadway be clear for all vehicles, including emergency transportation and school buses, to pass unobstructed.

So, Cremaldi explained, if it is the council’s intention to clear every vehicle off the streets of Patterson, then the proposed ordinance is appropriate. If not, then perhaps the ordinance already on the books (since 1946) may be appropriate with minor tweaking.

Another tweak could be to the law that requires homes provide parking for their own vehicles. It could be changed to add that the home’s parking must be utilized by its inhabitants, Cremaldi said.

The council has been obviously divided on the issue with some members saying that while no parking on city streets may be inconvenient, it is the safest option. Others say it is impossible to accommodate or enforce that law because of a lack of parking space in the city, specifically around schools and churches. Still others are concerned about event parking such as that for birthday or graduation parties or for gatherings after funerals at private homes.

The latter could be accommodated with an event parking permit, obtained from the police department, that would serve to inform emergency personnel of areas that may be congested so that emergency vehicles could be rerouted if they need to access the area.

Mayor Rodney Grogan told the council that he has formed a committee to survey the city in an effort to assess the parking problem. He also advised them to do their own homework so they can answer their constituents’ questions concerning the matter. Specifically, he said, the councilmen need to ride through the neighborhoods at night to gain a full understanding of the problem.

“January, come back ready to move … (the public’s) opportunity to speak was tonight. When you come back, you’re gonna take action,” Grogan told the council.

With the new information and the homework assignments, the matter was tabled during the regular meeting, as were all other ordinance adoptions.

As introduced by the council at the November meeting, the ordinances concerning mobile homes and mobile home parks in B-Business zones to be governed by the same rules applied to those in T-Trailer zones; an ordinance defining recreational vehicles, motor homes, travel trailers and campers; and an ordinance stating where those temporary facilities are allowed to be utilized and for how long also were discussed.

Cremaldi said those who have non-conforming mobile homes in a B-Business zone would have to be grandfathered in, but under the new law all newly placed homes would have to conform to the T-Trailer rules regardless of their zones.

The last ordinance disallows using RVs as permanent residences. It will allow them to be on city utilities for no more than 30 days per calendar year. It specifically defines recreational vehicles, campers, mobile homes and travel trailers, but does not intend for the owners of such vehicles to use them for permanent residences.

The definition of a residence came into contention, and Grogan raised concerns as to how the matter of when the 30-day period would be policed.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

—Announced a slight rate increase for SweeDee customers, effective in November from $18.14 to $18.92 for regular carts and from $18.75 to $19.55 for the bear carts.

—Expanded the agenda to open, take under advisement and allow the mayor to award bids for advertised surplus items.

—Learned city hall will close at noon Dec. 23 and reopen Dec. 27 for Christmas and close at noon Dec. 30, reopening Jan. 3 for the New Year holiday.

—Learned LSU’s Kenny Hilliard and Joey Crappell, both of Patterson, will serve as grand marshals for the city’s Christmas parade Dec. 18. It begins at 2 p.m. at Place Norman Shopping Center and runs down La. 182 to Patterson High School.

All members of the council were present Tuesday.

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