Variance request tabled, public input heard

By Cyndi Sellers

A variance request for Canik’s Feed and Grocery in Creole was tabled, but not before members of the public in attendance at Friday’s Cameron Parish Police Jury agenda meeting had their say. District Attorney Tom Barrett told the Jury that Canik’s’ attorney had asked for time to prepare a presentation and suggested they might want to hold public comment until then, but Jurors opted to let those present speak.

Mark Daigle said he was against the Police Jury giving a variance for one but not for all, since many people cannot afford to elevate. “People need a store, but at the end of the day people need help, too,” he said.

Ryan Mallory said he was sent to court over his home not being elevated, and the grocery store should have to meet the same codes. He said residents are getting “thrown into the street” without being given the option of a variance, and “ignorance is not an excuse to break the law.”

Tom Barrett replied that the District Attorney’s office works with each and every person who is found not to be in compliance, and his office does not throw anyone out of their house. Once, two years ago, a case went to court and the judge gave the defendants 30 days to get into compliance or vacate. If that person had provided a plan, they would have had more days, he said. Mr. Mallory put a home in place without contacting the permit department for inspections, he said, and if he had complied in the first place, inspections could have been done on time.

“Only the court can enjoin eviction,” Barrett said. “As long as they work with us, we will work with them. It can take months before filing a petition, even years.”

Lee Faulk stated that the permit department “bends over backward to help people. Scott Trahan said, “we’re here to help people, not to hurt them. The high cost of insurance is keeping people out. You have to elevate. “A decision on a variance for the grocery store was tabled until further notice.

Permit Fees Waived

Kara Bonsall reported that the 12-month waiver of disaster-related permit fees expired Aug. 27, and since then about 20 permits have been issued with fees attached. Since so many are still in the process of getting ready to repair or rebuild, she suggested a further extension of the waiver of disaster-related permit fees until Dec. 30, and a refund of those paid since Aug. 27. Jurors agreed and extended the waiver.

Repair Contracts Awarded

Jurors awarded the contract for repairs to the Cameron Multipurpose Building to Cuzan Services, LLC, the low bidder at $646,000. The building was damaged on the north side by Hurricane Delta, losing the HVAC system and taking water damage to the interior. it is hoped that the building can be ready to use in January, when the Cameron Parish Library is set to host Smithsonian Museum traveling exhibit. If so, it is possible that the Cameron Parish Bicentennial Time Capsule contents could be exhibited also.

Jurors ratified acceptance of Alfred Palma, LLC’s low bid of $1,939,000 to repair the Muria Fire Station. The only other bid was $2,420,000. Curtis Fountain questioned the apparently high bid amount, asking if it wouldn’t be cheaper to just tear it down and build a new one.