Denham Springs — Though the Denham Springs City Council took on several issues in its most recent meeting, the one that generated the most discussion was a neighborhood spat with more wide-ranging implications.
The city received a complaint about a home on Oak Street, and the owner attended the meeting to discuss the matter with council members. A few months ago, he had a freestanding carport installed which, while located on his land, came very near the property line. According to city code, land owners must maintain five feet of open space around the perimeter of their property.
The homeowner said his next-door neighbor on the adjacent plot didn’t have a problem with the carport and asked the city retroactively grant him permission for the structure. No one spoke against the measure, and Councilman Robert Poole noted that the home predated the current code requirements, so the Council unanimously granted its approval.
However, the question did generate a larger discussion about the responsibility for maintaining the city codes. The homeowner said he hired a company from Walker to build the carport, and several council members, such as Jeff Wesley, wondered if the city could hold businesses accountable for erecting a structure that is not compliant with Denham Springs ordinances. Building Official Rick Foster explained that his office has reached out to local companies, such as hardware stores, to share information about the regulations but that businesses outside the city may not get the message.
Several on the council wondered if they could hold businesses culpable for construction projects that violate city regulations. Attorney Stephanie Bond Hulett said such a provision would be troublesome to enforce because the onus of maintaining the code falls to property owners under the wording of the code, and changing it would be legally difficult, if not impossible.
In other business, during the first meeting of the new year, the Denham Springs Police Department provided the 2015 crime numbers. According to an overview, city police issued 10,770 citations, responded to 1,351 accidents, made 957 arrests and filed 7,941 reports in 2015.
Martha Wilson, director of Livingston Youth and Family Counseling, also distributed information on the nonprofit mental health organization, and the city signed off on minor revisions to the Livingston Parish Hazard Mitigation Plan.
Mayor Gerard Landry has also reminded residents that the city is still collecting winter coats to distribute to senior citizens. So far this winter, donors have given about 175 coats and $400 in funding. Participants can drop off donations at any city fire station, and prospective recipients can contact the Livingston Council On Aging at (225) 664-9343.
Landry said organizers have received few coats in extra large and larger sizes, and those are especially needed. Nevertheless, he is impressed by the participation in the drive, and hopes to collect parish-wide next winter.
Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.