ST. FRANCISVILLE — The Rev. Jesse Gilmore wasn’t asking for a miracle; he just wanted the road to his church resurfaced and widened.
“What does it take to get some action on Galilee Church Road?” he asked West Feliciana Parish officials on Monday, frustrated by the delays. Ask and ye shall receive.
The Parish Council and the parish president came to a consensus on the matter, agreeing to give the go-ahead for the road work.
Public Works Director Jim Ferguson had said his research on the road in the Solitude area indicates it was never dedicated to public maintenance, but instead is the private property of Galilee Full Gospel Baptist Church and the handful of residents who live along it.
Gilmore, the church pastor, said he had been assured at a previous council meeting that the road would be resurfaced and perhaps widened by the parish. After months of inactivity, he sought some resolution.
“It’s a public road when the parish needs access to it, to put in a water line,” added Courtney Bailey, whose house is on the road.
Parish President Kevin Couhig assured Gilmore and a half-dozen residents of the area attending the meeting that his staff is researching the situation and emphasized the parish would resurface the road if it could do so legally.
“We can only spend public money on it if it’s a public road,” Couhig said. “We cannot spend public money on a private road.”
But then, council attorney Mike Hughes noted that state law allows public bodies to acquire the servitude and maintenance of a road that’s been maintained by the public entity for more than three years.
In the case of Galilee Church Road, the parish has periodically been cutting back the overgrown shrubbery along the road.
Couhig and the council then agreed the resurfacing and widening work should be done and he apologized for any delays. He said Ferguson will make sure the road gets resurfaced and he will look at widening the road to 20 feet to make it safer and to allow for two-way access, particularly for when the church holds services. “We will move forward to get done what needs to be done,” Couhig said.
In another matter Monday, an issue about a parcel of property that was rejected by the parish’s Planning and Zoning Commission for rezoning was sent back for reconsideration. Bernie Vinson, of West Feliciana Towing, was seeking to have the property rezoned to accommodate the storage of vehicles he has towed. The council sent the issue back to the commission with the stipulation the property can be used for storage only, will only cover 2 acres and reverts to rural-agricultural designation if Vinson relocates his business.