Parish hears locals’ concerns

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Much of Monday’s parish council meeting time was given to concerns of residents.

First on the agenda to speak was Zana Antaesh, an owner, with her husband, of JZ Quick Stop on Highway 21.

Antaesh said she heard a church near her convenience store — which sells alcohol — complained to parish officials about the proximity. By law, stores may not sell alcohol within a certain proximity to a church.

Antaesh said she applied for a license to sell alcohol from the state in 2015, shortly after she and her husband opened the store in December 2014. Since then, she said no one has ever complained directly to her about the issue.

“I have got a call, or I heard rumors, that there was a complaint from the church about selling liquor or beer,” she said. “I don’t own the building we just lease it. The owner is Charles Sharp, and he said the building was grandfathered in when the church was there.”

In addition, Antaesh said she understood that Sharp had sold alcohol from the store years ago. She said she got the initial permit a year ago, and recently she got a renewal, and she said she and her husband try to keep a quiet, respectable store.

“I try to keep the business very quiet. We have lots of law people coming in so we keep it very quiet,” she said. “I am always there with my husband. We’re not trying to do anything shady. We’re just trying to make a living like everyone else.”

The parish council assured her she could continue to sell alcohol.

“From what we see, it’s a state issue,” council chairman Pete Thomas said. “The state has walked it, measured it and instructed us to issue the permit. … Personally if there is a complaint to be made by anybody, it needs to be made at the state level.”

Thomas said the board wasn’t going to consider the issue.

Next, Sheila Wade, another parish resident, spoke against a noise ordinance that the parish has not taken up.

Wade, who owns Yorkshire terriers, said she was concerned that a noise ordinance under review by the planning commission would get approved and prohibit dog barking.

“I don’t know if you’ve tried to keep yorkies quiet, but its pretty much not going to happen,” she said.

Members of the council assured her they would not pass a law to prohibit dog barking.

Thomas said the planning commission had reviewed Tangipahoa Parish’s noise ordinance, and that was all.

“They got Tangipahoa Parish’s noise ordinance and they had a meeting to discuss it, just discuss it, and see if there’s anything in there that we could apply to Washington Parish,” Thomas said. “But it’s not left the planning commission.”

Parish council lawyer Wayne Kuhn said the commission took a look at the neighboring parish’s noise ordinance three months ago, but they’ve taken no action since then, and he encouraged anyone with any concerns to visit the planning commission directly.

“It’s Tangipahoa’s law,” he said “So just don’t let your yorkies cross the line into Tangipahoa Parish.”

Finally, Fate Ferrell also spoke at the parish meeting.

Farrell said he was concerned some California land developers are in the parish and are seeking to build in his subdivision. He said he and his neighbors didn’t want any new development there.

Public Works Director Leo Lucchesi said he was unaware of any development applications.

Ferrell also complained about several nuisance buildings he said should be torn down, including one on Plum Street past Bogalusa Grill and another in Poplas Quarters.

Following comments from the community, the parish council recognized the parish library for 70 years of service and the Riverside Medical Center for its 50th anniversary.

The meeting closed with comments from the council, and everyone thanked first responders and community members who helped after the floods several weeks ago. However, Michael Fussell broke from that script to address some rumors he heard.

He said he heard the parish council is “being paid off by one of the big mining operators in the parish.”

“I want to inform everyone that that is not the case. We are not taking money under the table. We never have and we never will,” he said.