Documenter: Carl Ambrose 

Agency: Planning and Zoning Commission, City of Lake Charles

Monday, September 12, 2022, 5:30 PM Council Chambers

Summary

The planning and zoning meeting covered several subdivision approvals, as well as questions about FEMA flooding and elevation requirements for new structures built after Hurricane Laura.

The Scene

The meeting came to order on time, attended by David Berryhill, Gus Schram III, Reginald Weeks, alternate Thomas Sanders, and Doug Burguieres, the Director of Planning and Development. 

After roll-call and acknowledgment of a quorum, Mr. Burguieres addressed the members. He noted that the Chair and Vice Chair were not in attendance, Alvin Joseph and Adam McBride, so Mr. Berryhill would act as chair and preside over the meeting and asked if there were any objections, none were made, and the meeting proceeded.

Notes

Policies and Decisions

There was a motion to accept Minutes of the Previous meeting passed, followed by an announcement of the written appeals processes of the commission. (4:19)

There were several subdivision approvals under the city’s subdivision regulations, including dividing tracts of land in mixed-use zoning districts and a residential district. These were all approved unanimously. Other property additions and changes were brought to the commission, and all approved: For instance, U-Haul wanted to add a structure to its property that exceeded the maximum height by 2 feet. 

Another request was to subdivide a 25.71-acre tract of land into 95 single-family development lots. The lots are at Eastside 4700 Blk. Corbina Road. Representative Ryan Power thanked the commission for consideration and gave a brief update of the project. Mr. Schram thanked him for “a nice clear drawing.” There was no discussion or witnesses for or against, and it was approved unanimously. 

Hurricane Recovery Issues

During the meeting, Aiosha Ross requested a variance 22 to maintain an accessory building, which, at 640 sq. feet, exceeds the max of 40% of the main structure in a neighborhood zoning district. The address is 706 Rhodes Street.

The staff feels this is reasonable. However, the structure must comply with FEMA guidelines for elevation and/or flood protection measures. Representative Aisha Ross answered all questions so the variance was approved.

It was noted that after the storm, many structures were put in and violated the ordinance—hundreds of them, according to Mr. Burguieres. 

“They don’t know the permitting requirements. It happens weekly—we’re dealing with FEMA, issues right now,” he said. “Hundreds of individuals did not get building permits after the storm, [so] we are having to go back and address those properties and help them through a process and get the proper permits so that we are in compliance with FEMA, building code compliance and any other requirements that are on the books… There are hundreds of them, hundreds, and hundreds of them.”

One of the commission members asked if this included putting a roof on. Mr. Burguieres said that yes, “if you touch the house after a storm and didn’t obtain permits, and are in a flood zone, you are not in compliance with FEMA rules.”

Debate

There was some debate over a conditional use permit to establish a used car dealership at 2010 Church Street. The staff recommended approval with a condition that all other development standards are met, including landscaping standards. 

Representatives Jonathan and Tammy Cook, who would be running the business, were complimented on locating a business in the area, and the commission members discussed a fence and what it should look like. They decided to iron out details at a later date. 

The staff also recommended that a concrete apron be placed 30′ onto the property to help keep the gravel out of the right of way. The applicants had witnesses; one sent a letter from her entire household in support. The witness in support was a resident of the area named John, whose family has lived in the area for over 60 years and said development was needed in the area. 

Mr. Alvin Stevens, Jr. and son Stephon spoke in opposition to the project; they said they had tried to open a mechanic shop at the location several years earlier and according to Mr. Stevens, Mr. Luvetha August, City councilwoman from district B, stopped him. He became quite animated and sparred with members of the commission before his time expired.   There was more discussion about the aesthetics of the business, but a final decision was put off with future discussions. Approved (Vote 4-0)(36:08 in Video)

Follow-up Questions

How is the city handling all of the portable buildings that were added and are in compliance with the city ordinances? Is it a blanket policy? Are there time limits?

What allowances is the city making for extreme situations regarding compliance with city ordinances? Are they being applied evenly and fairly? 

Should some of these ordinances be revoked or paused during recovery?

Video

YouTube Poster