CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury voted again Monday to withdraw approval of a controversial subdivision off La. 409 in the southern part of the parish.
The action came in reply to property owner Tommy Dudley’s appeal of the Police Jury’s August decision to rescind approval of a survey map because it shows more than the four lots the jury’s ordinance allows for property accessed through a private servitude.
The subdivision’s approval bypassed most of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s members and all of the police jurors, as Parish Manager J.R. Rouchon and commission members Bart Blackledge and Russ Hicks signed it.
Carroll Devillier Jr., Dudley’s attorney, argued that the 30-day time limit for the jury to rescind the approval had long passed when neighboring property owners complained about the additional lots Dudley planned to develop on the private road.
“The appeals process had expired before we knew about it,” Juror Louis Kent replied, later adding, “This map was never approved by Planning and Zoning or this board.”
Jury President Dennis Aucoin said the map was approved because the jury never rescinded its action to give the parish manager authority to approve subdivision plats. At the time, Glen Kent, a surveyor and lawyer, was serving as parish manager.
The jury did not rescind the authority when Rouchon became parish manager, Aucoin said.
Devillier said Dudley lodged the appeal to exhaust his administrative remedies before he files a lawsuit.
Rouchon also came under fire from Coroner Laura DeJohn, who said the parish manager is continuing to question her bills for services provided despite several Finance Committee meetings to discuss the issue.
“Every time I submit a bill, there’s a problem. My billing has been done the same way forever,” she said.
DeJohn also said Rouchon filed a complaint against her to the Louisiana Board of Ethics after a movie production company paid her $1,000. She said Rouchon claimed the payment was for the Coroner’s Office, but she said the company paid her for opening her late husband’s medical building for his former patients to access their medical records and to allow movie production workers into the building.
The building’s exterior was modified for the movie set, which was closed to the general public.
“I got turned over to the Ethics Board, and I don’t appreciate that,” she said. “Nobody called me.”
District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla said issues of DeJohn’s bills had been discussed in several Finance Committee meetings.
“You get in there and say what needs to be said that day, then you leave and let your employees dictate how they’re going to treat someone who’s a public official in this parish. Your employees are treating public officials this way, and you’re just letting it go and not saying anything about it. That’s really sad,” D’Aquilla said.
Rouchon did not address DeJohn’s complaints, and jurors set another Finance Committee for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, after press time.
The jury also appointed John Stewman to the board overseeing parish Water District 7 and named Ben Chasteen to the parish Fire Protection District board.
Jurors voted to skip a meeting that ordinarily would be held Jan. 4 and hold the first meeting of 2016 on Jan. 11, the day when jurors’ new four-year terms officially begin.