Provident debate rehashed at recent SBPC meetingMay 9th, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: Top Story
On May 3, the St. Bernard Parish Council met for their regular session to hear updates from the Army Corps of Engineers, including the status of items that could push out the June 1 deadline for the projects. The Council also scheduled time to meet with attorneys on several legal matters, including the validity of Provident Realty’s building permits.
The Council met in executive session to discuss the ongoing litigation, including the lawsuit with Provident Realty. The council members met with their attorneys for nearly an hour discussing the suits.
“[The Council] is trying to work through that litigation,” Councilman-at-large-West Frank Auderer said. “If there was anything we could do instantly [to resolve the matter], we would do it.”
Neither the Council nor the administration were able to comment on what was discussed in the executive session. But that did not stop several citizens from speaking their minds about the four apartment sites, specifically the complex located on Patricia Street in Chalmette.
“Developers continued to build, even though they knew the permits were invalid,” Judy Giglio said.
Giglio is one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed by the Chateau Lafitte Homeowner’s Association, and she makes the assertion that any resident who continued any construction project with-out the proper permits would be forced to tear the site down and rebuild.
“I have waited in line to file a proper permit,” Giglio said. “We have to do this as citizens, [Provident] should do it as new neighbors.”
“The Patricia Street [apartment complex] should be torn down, to start all over,” Giglio concluded.
Dana Arcement also spoke before the Council and asked that the next step—should any Council members be uncertain of that—the next step is to simply not reissue or grant any new permits.
The Corps Report
Chris Gilmore, senior project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, reported on the successes of the St. Bernard 100-year protection system, and on aspects of the project that might delay the completion by June 1.
Two of the projects (LPV 145 and LPV 146) are marked at 99 percent complete. The Corps of Engineers has fertilized and seeded the levees, and are simply waiting for the grass to grow before turning over the projects.
The section of the Chalmette Loop at the Caernarvon Canal is 94 percent complete, and the last concrete pour is scheduled for the end of May.
Gilmore reported one issue that and may push the completion for this sector of the St. Bernard 100-year Protection System past June 1. The relocation of some of the pipelines is taking longer than expected, as the pipes must be depressurized properly before their removal. Gilmore said the pipe problem should be resolved shortly and would only push out the June 1 deadline by a week at the most.
When the projects reach completion and are handed over to the parish by the Corps, the operations and maintenance costs will become a parish responsibility as well. This poses a problem for the parish, since these costs are considerable.
“St. Bernard Parish does not have the money to maintain or operate this [system],” Councilman-at-Large-East Wayne Landry told Gilmore. Landry went on to say that continued communication with the Corps of Engineers is essential, so when the Corps picks up and leaves, the parish is not left with an asset it cannot maintain.
Other items of interest:
The Council passed a resolution in support of the Fortification of the Berms Project into Barrier Islands by a vote of 4-0. BP and the State of Louisiana both agreed to pursue this enhancement of coastal barrier islands to protect Louisiana’s oysters. Voting were Councilman-at-large-West Frank Auderer, Councilman-at-large-East Wayne Landry, Councilman Kenneth Henderson, District C, and Councilman Fred Everhardt Jr., District E.
A resolution requesting $15 million from BP also passed 4-0. The money would be used for projects that will prevent further damage to parish resources, which have come as recommendations from the Governor’s Oyster Advisory Committee.
The Council also voted 4-0 to authorize President Taffaro to resolve any permitting issues for the Community Air Monitoring Station. The station will be on Ventura Drive, near Murphy Oil in Chalmette.
The ordinance that would have established the permitting process for temporary electric meters on mobile homes failed to pass. Though the Council voted 3-1 on the ordinance, any ordinance must pass with at least four votes. Councilman-at-Large-West Auderer was the dissenting vote.
The council voted to table an ordinance that would wave fees for the October 8 Grand Union of all classes from the St. Bernard High School and P.G.T. Beauregard High School to be held at the Sigur Civic Center. The Council tabled the item to allow all the members of the council a chance to speak on the issue and precedent the Council might set by waving the fees for one group. The Grand Union will draw together all classes from two schools that were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. The effort to bring back so many citizens to the parish is being documented for future broadcast.
Council members voted to introduce ordinances adjusting the rates and charges for water and sewer services. The ordinances would also impose certain taxes for 2011 for road lighting District 1, road District 1, garbage District 1, and fire protection in Districts 1 and 2. The Council also voted down a millage rate adjustment for the parish 0-4.
May 8-14, 2011 will be recognized as Childhood Cancer Awareness Week. Councilman Auderer spoke for the council when he recognized the efforts of local hospitals that regularly fight childhood cancers, which is the number one cause of death by disease in the U.S. for children.
St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro addressed the $100 million that BP has extended to the state of Louisiana for continued coastal protection and associated efforts. Taffaro informed the Council that review of any funding is being done at the state level.
President Taffaro also took the opportunity to remind all residents that the 2011 Hurricane Season is fast approaching. Taffaro encouraged all citizens of St. Bernard to prepare provisions ahead of time—including food, water, and prescription medications—and plan their evacuation routes now. Those residents who will need travel or medical assistance in the face of a severe storm should contact the parish Emergency Operations Center at 278.4268.
New appointments to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Board, the Library Board of Control, and one appointment for the Planning Commission were accepted by the Council. The other appointment for the Planning Commission was tabled. If the recommended candidate were chosen, the candidate would break the tradition of having the member from every district reside within the district they represent. The item was tabled so Councilman Ray Lauga, Jr. of District A to be present to weigh in.