Location: Jury Chambers
Date: Thursday, December 15, 2022 5:30 PM
Documenter: Carl M. Ambrose, Jr.
The police jury recently adopted a 2023 budget, and the public hearing this meeting focused heavily on a home demolition plan.
The invocation was given by Mr. Joe Andrepont, followed by the pledge. Mr Stelly. then asked for the roll call. Present were: Jury President Tony Stelly, Anthony Bartie Vice-President, Brian Abshire, Joe Andrepont, Judd Bares, Guy Brame, Randy Burleigh, Tony Guillory, Ron Hayes, Eddie Lewis, Jr., Roger Marcantel, Ashton Richard, Mike Smith, Tony Tramonte. Mr. Chris Landry arrived shortly after the roll call.
A personal privilege was given to Juror Guy Brame, who introduced his guest, Mr. Leo, the Music Minister of Trinity Baptist Church, and J.D., who came to sing a couple of Christmas songs. The selected pieces were “Mary Did You Know” and “Joy to the World.” It was a charming performance that received a standing ovation from the jury and those in attendance.
Planning and development
The only issue under consideration in planning and development was the approval of two new liquor permits and six renewals. It passes by motion with no discussion.
Engineering and Public Works
Several items were up for approval, and all passed by motion with little to no discussion. This included several professional engineering contracts, including work on the Big Lake Water Line Expansion Project and for the planning and strategic analysis of watersheds in Calcasieu Parish.
Approval was also given for some surveying services related to water system upgrades to Wards Three and Eight and monitoring services for the water system upgrades and expansions in Wards Three and Eight.
A sale agreement on land purchase for the second phase of the Gauthier Road/Lake Charles Regional Airport Sewer Transport System Project.
Approval of submission of an application for a grant to the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness for the Mitigation Assistance grant program. The program for the acquisition and/or elevation of the flood-prone residential structures in the parish, contingent on the availability of funds, with any adjustments to the grant for increases, can be filed.
There were several items under consideration.
- Approving minutes of the November 17, 2022 meeting
- Approval of the Precinct Nos. 861E and 861W to Ward Eight Fire Protection District No.
- Two Fire Fire Protection District No. One Fire Station. (Iowa)
- A Cooperative Endeavor Agreement and Quit Claim Deed between Vinton and the Police Jury for property interest on Center St. in Vinton, La.
Consideration for the approval of items that the Finance Division requested included adopting and approving the Parish Budget for the 2023 Fiscal Year. The public hearing on the Budget was on December 1, 2022. Also included was approval for amending the 2022 Fiscal Year Budget for any deviation from the estimated Budget.
Public hearing on home demolitions and condemnations
The Police Jury began the Public Hearing as always promptly at 5:45. Mr. Stelly read the Intro for the hearing, which ordered the owners to show cause to stop the condemnation of the properties. There are 17 properties up for condemnation. All but one were condemned; the one not condemned has a closing on a sale for the property.
Each structure was given 30 days for demolition, all passed by motion, with little to no discussion.
Only one owner came forward to ask for more time, Ms. Alexis Guzman from Katy, Texas, who runs a non-profit which owns the house. She spoke to the jury, explaining what she thought was the problem with the original contract that would affect condemning the property. The Louisiana Land Trust donated the property, which has not been wholly fixed since Hurricane Rita. There was some discussion between Mr. Wes Crain, the Director of Planning and Development, and Mr. Richard, who commented, “That house has flooded several times… how was it acquired?” Ms. Guzman explained the acquisition: that each time there was a couple that they got work done, it flooded again and that, at this time, there were no funds to repair the structure.
Mr. Richard asked: “If it is repairable, would it have to be lifted according to some codes?”
Mr. Crain responded by explaining if it is in a flood plain and has been deemed substantially damaged. FEMA requires it to be lifted to have sustained 50% or more damage.
Ms. Jennifer Cobian, the Director of Grants for Calcasieu Parish, came up to clarify the status of any grants with the property. She stated that the parcel came through the Road Home program and that the parish didn’t receive any funds from the grant. The parish only agreed to accept the program to repurpose housing for low-income residents. She said the property was never rehabbed and put to use as stipulated by the original grant. She was consistently in “pretty bad shape many years ago. She also spoke about the flooding and the mitigation that had been done to several properties in the area. According to Ms. Cobian, there have been complaints for years before the last round of storms and floods. She said they reached out to the state to inquire about the jury’s liability if the non-profit, which was never named in the discussion, wasn’t in compliance, got no response, and couldn’t locate the proper entity to get a response because it may not exist.
The legal council for the parish, Samuel Gabb, spoke, saying, “The issue before you is if a property should be condemned, it is a public nuisance and a hazard in your eyes if it needs to be torn down. I am not going to say I don’t care, but I really don’t think that consideration is impacted by any obligations the landowner or anyone else has, if you feel this property is in a status to condemn, you should condemn it.”
Mr. Baras asked about the amount of the grant. Ms. Cobian informed him that there was “no grant on the table… and the grant was the state granting her the property many years ago.”
Mr. Landry then spoke, saying she was with a “great group” and that they had been before the police jury before. He suggested a program but was informed that the timetable wouldn’t allow it if she were eligible and accepted.
Mr. Beam, the Parish Administrator, spoke about extraneous items bogging down the decision-making process. The motion to condemn passed with removal in 30 days.
The agenda was continued after the 5:45 public hearing.
Consideration for the approval of items that the Finance Division requested included adopting and approving the Parish Budget for the 2023 Fiscal Year. The public hearing on the budget was on December 1st, 2022. Also included was approval for amending the 2022 Fiscal Year Budget for any deviation from the estimated Budget.
- Resolutions were approved by motion and passed.
- Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program Agreement with the Louisiana Housing Corp., $2,256,383 for October 2022 thru September 2024. The LHC also gets $12,890 for home counseling services.
- A cooperative endeavor agreement with local municipalities, non-profits, and faith-based organizations for the 2023 Summer Food Assistance Program.
Passed and approved by motion a contract for Ground Beautification and Services with Landscape Management.
All procurement items were passed by motion.
- Approval for the payment of all current invoices.
- Several bids were given, including the Bud Bennett Road Extension Project, the fourteenth Judicial District Court Hurricane Repair Project, the purchase of a truck, crushed stone, and pipes and fittings.
- There was also a bid for sewer pumps.
The jury adopted a resolution of condolences for the family of Mr. Johnnie Allen Mouton.
The Police Jury went into Executive Session to discuss a matter of litigation. When the police jury returned from the session, the meeting was adjourned.
The agenda for the meeting can be found here.