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In the News

Police Jurors discuss food truck, animal control

By Cyndi Sellers

Parish food truck and animal control ordinances were discussed at the Cameron Parish Police Jury agenda meeting on Friday, Sept. 6, but both issues remain unresolved.

District Attorney Jennifer Jones reported that a draft amendment allowing food trucks at Holly and Rutherford Beaches was sent to the Jury on July 18, with no response. Police Jury President Joe Dupont said he did not want to hurt local businesses near Rutherford Beach, even though the Cameron-Creole juror Davy Doxey had asked that it be included. Questions about the change being temporary or seasonal were also asked.

Jones explained the difference between food trucks and “frozen dessert” trucks like snow cone and ice cream trucks. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals requires commercial food trucks to affiliate with a “commissary” to which they return each night. Frozen dessert trucks must return to a “depot,” which must have a DHH approved kitchen.

Otherwise, the permitting is basically the same. Both must be approved by DHH in order to get a parish vendor’s license. In Cameron Parish, a vendor needs to get a $50 occupational license from the Sheriff’s Office and a $100 permit from the Police Jury.

However, food trucks and frozen dessert trucks are currently prohibited within the parish except for recognized fairs and festivals, or if operated by a non-profit organization. Sheriff Ron Johnson said his office has no choice but to shut down vendors who have no Cameron Parish permit.

After debate, jurors agreed not to require a vendor to use a commissary or depot located within Cameron Parish. They suggested a limit of 10 permits for Holly Beach, good for six months only. Jones was asked to create another draft for their consideration, which could be voted upon at the next meeting, then advertised for public comment before adoption.

Animal Control Issues

“Who is responsible for animal control, and should we keep it?” were questions asked by Juror Lee Faulk. By state statute, the Police Jury of any parish is responsible for animal control, but is not required to provide it, said Sheriff Ron Johnson. The parish Sheriff’s Office is responsible for livestock. The Cameron Sheriff’s Office provides 24-hour dispatch and ticket writing services to the Police Jury’s animal control officer to make the process more efficient, he said.

Faulk is concerned that over the years animal control has become much more complicated than when it was created. Back then, he said, the aim was to collect and hold nuisance dogs for 3-5 days until the owner could pick them up. After that time they were sent to Calcasieu Animal Control to be euthanized. The holding facility was just that - a short term holding pen.

Now, Faulk said, the parish is responsible for keeping animals until a court decides their fate, which can take weeks or months. The facility is not designed or staffed for such long term care, and costs are escalating.

Public Works Supervisor Emily Mock said Calcasieu no longer accepts out-of-parish animals, but she has found a facility in Jennings that will euthanize Cameron Parish animals.

The DA Jones said it is no longer legal to euthanize an animal without issuing proper notice to the owner, which takes a certain amount of time. That being said, she thinks people want to be able to call someone if a rabid animal comes into their yard.

A meeting was set up between the Police Jury, Sheriff and DA to further discuss the issues and see if some solution can be found.

Voting Meeting

After public hearings, at which one written objection was received, the Jury voted to approve changes to the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance inspection section and the Building Code Ordinance.

Under the inspection rules, applicants or owners have 30 days to contact the Police Jury when foundation forms are complete or a structure is moved onto a site, after first being issued a development permit. If the applicant or owner fails to comply with the permit application or base flood elevation requirements, a certified letter will be sent informing them of the violation.

If the applicant or owner fails to comply, penalties of not more than $500 for each violation shall be fined, plus expenses for inspections and court costs. The Parish may also “seek to enjoin the occupancy or use of any building or structure which has, without compliance with this chapter, been, in whole or in part, constructed, enlarged, altered, repaired, moved, demolished, or the occupancy changed.” The same applies to “electrical, gas, mechanical or plumbing systems being erected, installed, enlarged, altered, repaired, removed converted or replaced in any fashion.” Previous references to jail time were removed.

Concerns have been raised recently about violators being enjoined from using their property. The Permit Department reported that those individuals have been met with and are being allowed time to comply.

The office has not been told by FEMA that it cannot issue any more Section 1316 permits, which would allow structures below BFE but eliminate future FEMA payments or any future structure on the property. Since 2009 there have been only 14 properties issued Section 1316 permits.

The Building Code Ordinance was amended to provide that the most current International Building Codes will be adopted by the Parish, eliminating the need to change the ordinance each year.

Parish Administrative offices will be closed Sept. 24, from 8 a.m.-12 noon, for the Courthouse re-dedication ceremony. Sept. 24 is also the anniversary of Hurricane Rita.

An after-the-fact permit requested by Little Pecan Cattle Company, LLC for the installation of a 36 inch drainage discharge pipe, electric pump, platform,and driveway to provide drainage relief to the affected area during periods of heavy rain and high Mermentau River levels was tabled, pending approval by the local drainage board and a public comment period.

Pamela Romero was appointed to the Johnson Bayou Recreation District, replacing Janna Trahan, who resigned. Johnny Pruitt was appointed to Beachfront Development District #2, replacing Darlene Higgins, who resigned.

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