PLAQUEMINE — The Iberville Parish Council made plans Tuesday evening to join with the state’s coastal parishes to press the federal government into expediting its permit process for coastal restoration projects.
P.J. Hahn, director of Plaquemines Parish’s Coastal Zone Management Department, asked the council, “in the spirit of cooperation,” to approve a resolution similar to resolutions other parishes are approving that encourage the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the permit process before more land is lost to coastal erosion.
“On the average it takes four to five years to permit a project,” Hahn said, “With all the money that is getting ready to come down the pipe from the BP oil spill, we will never see a project in our lifetime if we don’t change the permit process.”
“During the oil spill, we built the largest coastal restoration project ever in the history of the United States and that was the berms,” Hahn said.
“We got those permits in 19 days, and we want all the parishes to pass a resolution to show solidarity,” Hahn said, “because we are losing the land faster than we can ever build it if we don’t change the permitting process.”
Matt Jewell, chairman of the council, told Hahn the council will have a resolution ready to vote on at its next meeting in October.
“We agree with Plaquemines Parish,” Jewell said after the meeting. “We feel like the process needs to be quickened. (The state is) losing a football field of land an hour, and if it takes three or four years for a permit for a project — the land they want to restore will be gone.”
Parish President Mitchell Ourso agreed, saying, “The Army Corps of Engineers needs to realize they need to be a little more compassionate to southern Louisiana.”
In other business, the council:
EXPRESSED ITS CONDOLENCES: In a resolution to member Salaris Butler Sr., the council expressed condolences on the July 22 death of his wife, Karen Young Butler, who served in the U.S. Army and the Iberville Parish Drug Court.
Butler thanked the council and the approximately 40 residents in attendance for the recognition.
CANDIDATE ANNOUNCEMENTS: Brandon Mellion announced his intent to run for the District 7 parish council seat, and Aubrey St. Angelo announced he is a candidate for parish sheriff.
TAX PROPOSAL: The council also voted to oppose a Louisiana Tax Commission proposal to change the 2012 rules and regulations to allow that the subsurface oil and Gas property currently being taxed under Chapter 9 rules should be exempt from taxation.
SUPPORTED A RESOLUTION: The council voted to support a resolution urging the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Mississippi River Commission and the State of Louisiana to recognize the Bayou Chene Flood Control Flood Project as part of the Mississippi River Tributary system and that 100 percent of the costs be reimbursed.