Graham outvoted on two council issues

Published 7:31 am Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bogalusa City Councilwoman Oneita Graham found herself alone in opposition to issues approved by the full body this week.

Councilwomen Wendy Perrette and Penny Williams were both absent. The council otherwise unanimously passed an amendment to an ordinance that allows modular homes in the city.

Modular homes are not mobile homes.

The ordinance, which was approved in June, defines them as “houses divided into multiple modules or sections, which are manufactured in a remote facility and delivered to their intended site of use. The modules are then assembled on a permanent foundation without a permanent chassis, into a single residential building. Unlike other prefabricated construction, modular homes conform to all state, local and regional codes where the structure is to be located.”

Graham, the driving force for the allowance, voted against the amendment because it requires people who want to bring modular homes into the city to go before the Planning and Zoning board and the council before being issued a permit.

Graham argued that people with modular homes should not be treated any differently than those with “stick-built homes.” She said the ordinance already covered everything necessary to ensure that the modular homes would “fit in” with their surroundings, and that the addition does not “specify what we want them (Planning and Zoning) to look at.”

Councilman Michael O’Ree said that he believes “another set of eyes would be good.”

The measure passed with four votes in favor and one against.

Graham also split with the others on a vote concerning the sale of an adjudicated city property on Columbia Street, which was determined to be surplus, to Patty Marcombe, a close associate of Mayor Charles Mizell. Reportedly, according to records, Marcombe listed her address the same as Mizell’s.

Graham questioned why the deed was dated July when council action wasn’t taken until August and “the city doesn’t have authority until the council signs.” She said she tried but failed to reach City Attorney Dale Branch on the matter, and suggested the ordinance be tabled.

Councilman Doug Ritchie said he was able to contact Branch and that he was told that the dating was “always done that way.” He added that the contract would not go into effect until in was signed by the council.

Branch, who was out of state, said Friday that the date could be changed.

“We’ve sold many properties like that,” he said. “I don’t know why they weren’t questioned before. July was probably when we wrote it up. I guess we figured it was going to go through before now. It is probably just a month with a blank. We’ll reprint it with an August date.”

Branch said the city follows state law on the sale of adjudicated properties.

In March, an ordinance introduced by the council “to make (the law) more efficient” failed, he said.

Graham could not be reached Friday for comment.