City approves food trucks, rejects plan to build condos

Published 3:21 am Saturday, October 19, 2019

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During Tuesday’s Bogalusa City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved the operation of food trucks within the city limits, but rejected a plan to build condos in the city, by a 4-3 vote.

The council had previously rejected the food truck question by a vote of 4-3, at their Sept. 3 meeting. A new version of the ordinance was introduced at the Oct. 1 meeting, and this time when it came up for a vote the ordinance passed unanimously.

The ordinance will amend Article IV, Division 2 of the Bogalusa City Code to allow language permitting and regulating the operation of food trucks in the city. All food truck applicants must be approved and cleared by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, prior to requesting a food truck permit from the city.

Food truck operators must pay a non-refundable application fee of $250, which will be renewed annually. They must also pay a food truck permit fee of $1,000, which will be renewed annually. Vendors must also pay annual occupational license fees, and a $50 tax deposit, as well as any other applicable fees.

The city will only initially permit six food trucks, and they must follow strict regulations concerning what items can be sold, where and when the trucks can be parked, and other requirements.

Council members Kenny Kellis, Mark Irvine, Teddy Drummond and Penny Douglas voted against the food truck issue on Sept. 3, but all four voted in favor at Tuesday’s meeting. Several council members stated that they had done additional research and met with prospective vendors, and determined that food trucks should be permitted.

During public participation, some citizens questioned the high fees, stating that New Orleans only has a fee of $450 annually.

Condo vote fails, 4-3

Also on Tuesday, the council narrowly voted not to grant a special use permit to American Dream Homes of Washington Parish, LLC, to build six-plex condominium units between West 15th Street and West 16th Street, and Avenue H and Avenue I.

The ordinance was introduced at the Oct. 1 meeting, where several members of the public spoke out against the condo plan. They argued that the neighborhood was already quiet and sparsely populated, and a large-scale housing development like the condos would strain infrastructure and destroy the quiet way of life there.

David Strange, president and CEO of Roanoak Development, LLC, of Ridgeland, Miss., was present at Tuesday’s meeting. Strange’s company would have constructed the condos for American Dream Homes of Washington Parish, LLC.

Strange spoke for several minutes, and assured the council and public that the company would go through all the engineering steps and other requirements. He noted that the special-use permit is just a first step, and would allow the company to build six-plex units rather than just duplexes, for which the area is currently zoned. Duplexes can only house two families, while six-plexes can house three to six families per lot.

Initially, the council voted to table the matter until additional research could be done. However, Strange noted that his company had already received approval for federal housing tax credits, and there was a strict deadline to meet, or those credits could be withdrawn.

Drummond made a motion to table, and it was seconded by Gloria Kates. The motion to table failed 5-2, with only Drummond and Kates voting for it.

After additional discussion by members of the public and council, a vote was taken on whether to grant the special-use permit. The permit request was rejected, with Oneita Graham, Douglas and Danielle Keys voting in favor, and Kellis, Irvine, Drummond and Kates voting against it.

In other business, the council:

  • Unanimously approved two resolutions. The first was to support preparation and submittal of an application for funding through the Local Government Assistance Program. The second was to support preparation and submittal of an application for funding through the Division of Administration Community Water Enrichment Fund.
  • Unanimously approved an ordinance to close North Royal Street between Convenience Street and Church Street, with the alleyway between Convenience Street and Church Street west of North Royal Street with Servitude Street.
  • Introduced an ordinance that will be voted upon at the council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The ordinance would amend the City of Bogalusa Code Chapter 2 Administration by adding Article VII, providing for Administrative Adjudication Code Violations and to provide for procedures and penalties.
  • Heard from Joey Richard, fiscal administrator for the City of Bogalusa. District Judge William J. “Rusty” Knight appointed Richard as the city’s fiscal administrator on May 31.

Richard said that the city is making progress toward improving its financial position. He noted that pension plan payments this year are “very close” to what is required, and the city had owned $2 million toward the landfill but that is now down to $1.7 million.

Richard said that he has hired additional counsel for advice on how to deal with the landfill liability.

“I know the accounting, but I don’t know the trash side of it,” said Richard, stating the goal is to solve the landfill problem by late 2019 or early 2020.

He also stated that he will likely remain involved with the city through at least April of next year, as there may be some issues to go on the ballot for the voters to decide that month.

  • Unanimously approved Mayor Wendy Perrette’s recommendations to the cemetery board.

The next meeting of the Bogalusa City Council will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 5:30 p.m. at Bogalusa City Hall, located at 214 Arkansas St.