ST. FRANCISVILLE — Bowing to pressure from timber and sand and gravel mining interests, the West Feliciana Parish Council modified and approved a vehicle weight-limit ordinance Monday to affect only overweight vehicles used in oil and gas exploration and production.
Parish President Kevin Couhig said the original proposal introduced last year also would have pertained to vehicles operated on parish roads in harvesting timber and vehicles used in sand and gravel mining, but he said talks with people involved in those industries resulted in the change approved Monday.
He also said the ordinance was intended to begin a discussion on "how to maintain roads that were not built well to begin with" but not penalize the companies that use them.
Although the ordinance's scope is limited to vehicles used in the petroleum drilling or production industries, the council will eventually come back with a permitting system for agriculture, forestry, and sand and gravel mining operations as talks with those interests continue, Couhig said.
The companies involved in oil and gas exploration will be required to obtain permits based on the weights of the vehicles, and companies will be required to post a $500,000 surety bond to cover the cost of repairs to parish roads.
The original proposal had set the bond amount at $1 million.
Couhig predicted that oil and gas exploration will pick up in the parish later this year, possibly by July.
"I expect to see a lot of oil and gas trucks this year," he said.
The council voted 5-0 to adopt a series of amendments to remove sand and gravel producers and timber companies, satisfying several people who apparently had signed up to speak against the original ordinance proposal. The vote to approve the amended version also was unanimous.