CLINTON — The East Feliciana Parish Police Jury voted Monday to set a Jan. 7 public hearing on a proposal to decrease the Planning and Zoning Commission from nine members to seven.

Jury President Louis Kent said the move was discussed in an executive committee meeting last week because of poor attendance and ethical conflicts that have occurred in the past.

"Most of the time only five or six show up," Kent said.

Land surveyor Jeff Moody, who has been critical of the jury concerning its approval of property subdivisions for several years, questioned why the decrease is being considered, saying the jury in 1986 set the number of commission members at nine when the parish population was about 14,000.

Moody questioned why the jury wants fewer commission members in a parish with a population now of about 20,000.

In recent years, the commission has had members who brought items before the body, despite legal prohibitions of a planning and zoning member remaining on a commission while it considers the member's projects.

"We've already had an ethical violation," Juror Glen Kent noted.

With fewer members, the jury can get volunteers to serve who are not likely to be a developer or contractor seeking commission approval for zoning changes or subdivisions, Glen Kent said.

Glen Kent said he personally would rather have just five members, but the jury voted to set the number at seven for the purpose of calling the public hearing on this proposal.

In matters related to planning and zoning, the jury voted to remove commission member Larry Thomas from the panel and also approved the preliminary plat for a 45-lot subdivision off La. 68.

Thomas told jurors earlier this year that he was resigning, but Louis Kent said Thomas never submitted a written resignation, as the jury requested. The jury president recommended removing Thomas for missing more than three meetings.

Approving the preliminary plat for Hidden Pointe subdivision will allow the developer to begin working on his construction plans, commission member John Rouchon said.

In other action, the jury:

  • Recognized Clinton resident Cely Bunch for her work in ridding Silliman Street in Clinton of litter. Bunch said she found that tying a spare garbage can fitted with a garbage bag to a traffic sign pole proved effective in getting drivers to properly dispose of their trash.
  • Voted to pay $10,000 to an insurance company fighting a lawsuit against the parish filed by George Turner over the planning commission and jury's rejection of a land development. The figure represents the jury's liability insurance deductible.
  • Agreed to renew a contract with Lafayette Parish Juvenile Detention Home to hold juvenile offenders if needed. The home charges $250 a day to house a juvenile, but "we don't have a history of needing to use it," Parish Manager Sonya Crowe said.