CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury withheld a decision Monday on evicting the renters in three houses in Wilson to which the parish has a claim because its owner has not paid property taxes.
The jury has a claim to a total of eight lots, but only three have occupied residences on them, Parish Manager J.R. Rouchon said.
Rouchon said the previous owner is collecting rent from the occupants but has “gone underground” while a bank attempts to foreclose on the property.
If the jury started eviction proceedings, the renters would reveal the property owner’s location and the bank could proceed with foreclosure, eventually putting the land back on the tax rolls, he said.
Rouchon also said Wilson officials also have complained about the number of calls its police force has made at the residences.
But several jurors balked at trying to evict the renters.
“You’re putting people out on the street who have nothing to do with this,” Juror Chris Hall said.
Jurors voted to table the request in order to get an idea of how many people are living on property adjudicated to the jury for the owners’ failure to pay taxes.
Rouchon estimated the jury, as the parish governing body, has claims on about 300 pieces of property throughout the parish.
In other action Monday, the jury:
Set a 5:45 p.m. public hearing on an ordinance to redistrict the parish’s four justice of the peace districts to conform with voting precinct revisions made after the 2010 census.
Learned that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently found “no reasonable cause” that the jury discriminated against George Turner, of Ethel, for a 2013 vote to deny Turner’s request that he be allowed to administer a program for Section 8 housing subsidies in the parish.
Accepted Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations to grant a zoning variance for a sweet shop on Genola Road near Williams Lane, a residential area, and a variance allowing the recently opened Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market outside of Clinton to erect a sign larger than the 64-square feet allowed by a parish ordinance.
Commission Chairman Richard Howell, who voted against both recommendations, said the jury may want to amend its sign ordinance because the Wal-Mart variance may make it difficult to enforce in the future.