LIVINGSTON — Gravel pit operators in Livingston Parish soon may have a streamlined process for obtaining permits, but the rules governing their operations are still up in the air.
The Parish Council’s Ordinance Committee met for more than two hours Wednesday night to discuss changes to a proposed ordinance Councilman Jim Norred drafted in response to a pit that will be located next to his Watson subdivision. The committee will meet again Thursday night to continue its work.
Committee Chairwoman Joan Landry said the parish legal adviser will review the group’s recommendations before those go to the full council.
The committee agreed Wednesday that sand and gravel pit operators should be required to submit a new pit’s detailed site plan, land reclamation plan and hours of operation to the parish Planning Department for review. From there, the plans would go to the Planning Commission for public hearing and a vote, followed by a hearing and vote at Parish Council, Landry said.
That would place gravel pits on the same footing as commercial and residential projects in the parish, which follow the same process, Landry said.
If the Parish Council green-lights the project, the company would be granted a parish permit, with the understanding the operator must then obtain all required state and federal permits.
Committee members agreed the parish permit fee should be $1,000 per site application, with no required renewal, rather than the annual $3,000 fee per hole that Norred proposed.
The committee consensus also was against requiring any impact studies — except perhaps a traffic study for parish highways — other than those required by state and federal regulatory agencies. However, when other agencies required such studies, the committee said, copies should be forwarded to the parish Planning Department.
The sticking points will be in the regulations pit operators would have to follow in preparing and excavating their sites.
The committee settled on a proposed 8-foot barrier requirement — constructed of solid wood fence, earthen berm or a combination of the two — between any pit and a neighboring subdivision.
Pit operators seemed to agree the proposal is better than Norred’s proposed 8-foot solid wood, brick or masonry fence around the entire perimeter.
The committee also opened discussion, but deferred a decision until Thursday, on possible setback requirements to distance excavation activities from adjoining properties, particularly in residential areas. Pit operators said setbacks greater than 50 feet would cut significantly into the acreage they could mine, but committee members expressed concern about potential foundation problems for neighboring houses.
Norred’s ordinance would require a 500-foot setback from any residential property and 1,000 feet from schools, houses of worship and other similar sites.
Landry has proposed reducing that requirement to 100 feet from residential property lines and 50 feet elsewhere.
The committee will resume discussion at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter @HeidiRKinchen.