OPELOUSAS — The St. Landry Parish Council voted 8-2 Wednesday night to have its attorney research how to increase the penalties for owners whose vehicles damage parish roads.
Council member Tim LeJeune said he has received complaints about young drivers purposely using their pickup trucks to create deep holes on roadways.
LeJeune proposed having board attorney Chad Pitre examine an existing parish ordinance that now imposes fines for the operators of vehicles that cause road damage.
Parish government, LeJeune said, should seize the vehicles of the road damage offenders.
Pitre told the council the current ordinance could be amended to create harsher penalties.
Vehicles currently can be seized by law enforcement agencies when the vehicle is used in connection with violation of drug laws, said Pitre.
The same vehicle seizure procedure could be instituted if the council chooses to enhance the current ordinance, said Pitre.
In order to seize a vehicle causing road damage, Pitre said, “the matter would have to be brought before a judge and the matter of whether to proceed with a property forfeiture would be decided in court.”
Council members Jerry Red, Hurlin Dupre, Ronald Buschel, Alvin Stelly, Pam Gautreau, Wayne Ardoin, LeJeune and Jimmie Edwards voted to authorize Pitre to research the matter.
Huet Dupre and Dexter Brown voted “no”. Fuchsia Miller-Mathews and Gary Courville were absent from the meeting.
In another matter, the council also voted 8-2 to have a Public Works Committee discuss whether a salvage yard on the Washington Road north of Opelousas is violating a parish ordinance.
Red said Rodney’s Towing should not be storing tank trucks or tanks at the company’s property.
The towing business, Red said, should only tow vehicles to its yard. Instead the company is storing equipment, a situation he said violates a parish ordinance that regulates salvage operations.
Even though parish code enforcement employees have visited Rodney’s Towing and determined that the operation is in compliance with parish codes, Red said the company violates the parish salvage ordinance.
“This is supposed to be a towing company and not a salvage yard,” Red said.
Huet Dupre and Buschel voted no to further discussion of the matter.
Buschel said in the past parish government has had difficulty attempting to enforce salvage yard operations.
No representatives from Rodney’s Towing attended Wednesday night’s meeting.