Documenter: Carl M. Ambrose Jr.
Agency Holding Meeting: Lake Charles City Council
Date: Wednesday, January 25, 2023, 5:30 pm
Location: Lake Charles City Hall in Council Chambers
A jam-packed meeting amid major weather events in the area focused on a proposed housing development that many residents are opposed to.
Because of severe weather, meeting dates were pushed back, and the special meeting and agenda meeting was held on Jan. 25. President Ieyoub called the meeting to order, advising that the agenda meeting would follow the special session. Mr. Geyen gave the invocation, and Mayor Nic Hunter led the Pledge. Mrs. Thibodeaux held roll call; Mr. Ieyoub, Mr. Eckard, Mrs. August, Mr. Geyen, Mr. Weatherford, Mr. Harvey, and Mr. Marks were all present.
The minutes from January 4, 2023, and the Special Meeting on January 10, 2023, were approved 7-0.
There were several deferrals: a demolition on General Patton, subject to a tax sale, and a demolition on South General Wainwright.
Public hearings on demolitions
Several properties were ordered to be scheduled for demolition.
3912 Vanderbilt Street Mr. Weatherford spoke with the owner and recommended 90-120 days, contingent on removing debris. The motion passed 7-0.
2010 Gerstner Memorial Hwy. Mr. Hester of the City stated that a property review showed that much work had been done without any necessary permits being pulled. The city issued a “Stop Work” order on the commercial property. Mr. Cory Rubin, an attorney for the city, presented a letter from Marc Lewis of J.D. Bank concerning the mortgage and saying Mr. Lewis spoke with Mr. Geyen, who stated that they have been “wrestling with this property for many months” and recommended 15-15 for demolition. The motion passed 7-0.
There were several ordinances in which final acceptance of the lowest bids passed, and an ordinance for the city to accept the ownership and maintenance of phase four of the sewer lift station at the Crest at Morganfield.
In addition, the purchase of a three-wheeled sweeper for the Public Works Dept. was authorized from Utility Trucking ($253,800). The motions all passed separately 7-0.
The lowest bids were accepted on:
- The purchase of asphaltic mixtures for application, a twelve-month contract. The motion passed 7-0.
- The Infrastructure Asphalt Overlay Sanitary Sewer Repairs($199,350). The motion passed 7-0.
Policies and decisions
There usually is no discussion on this, and the President reads each item into the record. Still, tonight Mr. Geyen wanted to discuss the item which had been deferred earlier because an elderly woman had come to speak at the meeting, and he was unaware of the deferral before the meeting. Ms. Renee, from the City’s legal department, spoke and advised Mr. Geyen that the City had received a notice from the parish concerning the property and another program, so they pulled it. Mr. Geyen noted that he had not been notified and said, “It’s my district, Amen.” He then instructed the woman, Ms. Geraldine Savoy, to the podium to speak. He was informed that the matter had been deferred. Mr. Rueben said he would talk to her.
The following all had resolutions to set a date for a public hearing on condemning structures. Motion passed 7-0.
- 903 4th Ave., 907 4th Ave.
- 338 South General Wainwright
- 3424 Gerstner Memorial Hwy.
- 3454 13th St.
- 2832 General Mitchell St.
- 2732 East 12th St., 270 Common St.
- 2360 Lake St.
- 608 Sycamore St.
- 524 10th St.
- 3828 Ernest St.
- 425 West School St.
- 3830 Swanee St.
- 905 West Sale Rd.
read more about demolitions here
Roughly half the housing stock in the parish was damaged by the hurricanes. Now, officials are condemning and demolishing dozens of homes each month.
Summer youth initiative
Mr. Ieyoub adjourned the meeting, then immediately started the second meeting. The first item was a presentation by Mrs. Kimberly Dellafosse and Ward Three’s Mike Castille concerning the city’s relaunch of the Summer Youth Initiative, a program for high school and college students. The program will have 60 students who will get “real life experience” and training opportunities during the eight-week program.
Mrs. Dellafosse said the program has expanded from just Parks and Recreation summer camps and feeding programs, under Community Services. The additional Departments are Accounting, Finance, Community Development, IT, Public Relations, Planning, Engineering, Legal, and Cultural Affairs. She spoke about the valuable experience interns could receive that will help them move forward with college in the market. She explained that they could apply through their school and the City on the City’s website. Mr. Marks asked about department-specific applications, to which Mrs. Dellafosse replied, “yes,” and then explained some of the requirements.
Mr. Castile then came to the podium to speak about the summer camps the city is bringing back after being stopped by the pandemic. Five community centers will have 250 campers for an eight-week program. The city will have a full-time site coordinator on each site, a camp coordinator, a college student, camp counselors, and high school students.
There will be athletic coordinators for the different camps, like soccer camp, football camp, and golf camp. He briefly discussed plans for the upcoming school year, including after-school programs. He also talked about the opportunity some of the interns would have working at the golf course, learning how golf courses operate, with one position to shadow the Director to see the business side of golf. He spoke on the value of understanding those operations and that they were great and lucrative career paths. There was only one question then the agenda meeting was formally called to order by Mr. Ieyoub.
Agenda for next meeting
Mrs. Thibodeaux read the agenda for the upcoming meeting into the record, which included appointing a chair to receive bids on the Downtown streetscape Phase II.
The following is a list of the homes slated for demolition:
2212 Common St., 124 Ryan St., 2837 Wingate St., 3000 Broad St., 1926 11th St., 619 Enterprise Blvd., 407 S. 1st Ave., 3537 Greenwich Blvd., 2444 6th St., 740 18th St., 2150 Wibert St.
The ordinance for final action will include the following:
- Adopting new amendments to the State Uniform Construction Code as they affect the City’s Building Code.
- Allowing additional funding for city hall interior and exterior repairs
- Special Event Permits for Mardi Gras of SwLa., Inc. for Mardi Gras activities.
- Acceptance of several projects, including the St. Louis Area Drainage Rehabilitation, as substantially complete.
- Received sealed bids for Waste Water Projects at Saline Rd., Lawrence Lane, and A. Miller Rd
- declaring Loche Park a “Family Friendly Area” during Mardi Gras, with no consumption, possession, or alcohol.
There were several items for introduction, including purchasing tracts of land on MLK and a cooperative endeavor agreement with McNeese to form the LNG Center of Excellence.
Other concerns from the council
Mr. Ieyoub then opened the floor to council members. Mr. Marks asked about a traffic study for an additional turn lane at Kirkman and Prien Lake Rd intersection and thanked the administration for the work on the speed bumps in Oak Park. He also reported no flooding on 3rd or 5th Ave., where work had been done.
Mr. Harvey spoke about the happy property on Fitzenrider Rd. and Gwynn St. lights that need to add to several areas Simmons and Moeling St. He also spoke about complaints about the crews installing fiber-optic lines and the damage they are causing to roads and property and the time it is taking for the repairs. He also mentioned complaints about outrageous water bills.
Mrs. August spoke about addressing weather sirens and asked if we could pair with the parish for a warning system. She also mentioned wanting to do something for the “students on the right side of the law.” She then relayed a recent experience where someone asked if “the city or the parish or the organizations could have a program for kids who have lost their way, maybe once, a second chance and what she thought was needed. “They have talents but aren’t being recognized.”
Mr. Harvey asked that the council be open-minded to the people speaking to them.
Mr. Geyen, who, when asked if he had anything to add originally, said no, but after Mr. Harvey and Mrs. August spoke, he interjected and requested time and spoke about daily shootings and “rash of killings” and that he thought we needed public service announcements from the Chief and others to have parents pay closer attention to who, what, and where their kids are and are with. He mentioned looking closely at if “something is wrong, or if they have weapons in the house That cannot hurt anything.”
Mr. Paul Geary (who is also part of the documenters program) spoke to the council, expressing concerns over the proliferation of convenience stores all over the city. He asked if the city could look into curtailing some of the expansion and even possibly a moratorium on building new stores.
Proposed housing development
Mr. Gregory Griffin was called up to speak. While he approached, Mr. Ieyoub read the names of people in opposition into the record but wanted to refrain from speaking.
Mr. Griffin was there to speak against the proposed housing development on Moeling St. The development would have 66 townhome apartments.
Mr. Ieyoub asked the administration,”do we know where we are with this process? Has it gone to Zoning? …Is it an application? or do we know?”
Mayor Hunter and City Administrator John Cardone said it would go to the planning and zoning for their next meeting. Mr. Weatherford and Mr. Alvin Joseph, the Planning and Zoning committee president, on Feb. 13. Mr. Marks questioned the procedure since signs with appeal dates were displayed on the property, stating that Mr. Harvey had already appealed.
Mayor Hunter clarified, “I apologize. It has gone to zoning and is being appealed to the council.”
Mr. Griffin was advised to attend the planning and zoning meeting and reappear when the council takes up the issue. Mr. Weatherford explained that a minor conditional use permit required a sign for 15 days to allow for opposing views. “It has yet to be heard at zoning,” he said.
What became clear is that this went through City Planning rather than the Planning and Zoning Commission. Mr. Joseph, Mr. Marks, and Mr. Harvey talked about the two different signs that appeared on the property and the confusion. Mr. Cardone then reiterated what Mr. Weatherford stated and advised Mr. Harvey and Mr. Marks someone from planning would call them and explain what was happening. Mr. Harvey went on record in opposition to where the project is proposed and said he met with the developer and presented alternatives. He also asked why they couldn’t be upfront about the project, and the Housing Authority’s relocation plans, instead of presenting it as something it isn’t and saying that the developer’s track record could be better.
Mr. Marks asked Mr. Cardone for clarification on the Lake Charles Housing Authority; Mr. Cardone stated that the board isn’t run by the City and only has a couple of appointments to the board.
The agenda can be found here: https://www.cityoflakecharles.com/egov/documents/1674059834_81637.pdf
Minutes from the January 10, 2023 neeting can be found here: https://www.cityoflakecharles.com/egov/documents/1674846373_81123.pdf