ST. FRANCISVILLE — The Board of Aldermen has asked its legal adviser to draft a stop-work order and letters to the parish government and a contractor, who the board says violated the town's historic district ordinance by replacing many of the windows in the parish's old courthouse.

Built at the turn of the 20th century and still used to hold court, the building is adjacent to a newer courthouse that houses offices of the sheriff, clerk of court, assessor and judges, in addition to a smaller courtroom and Parish Council meeting room.

Mayor Billy D'Aquilla said Tuesday the parish had a Baton Rouge firm do the work on Saturday without a permit and without following the procedures set out in an ordinance establishing the town's historic district.

Architect Jim Dart, who lives near the building, said the cypress window frames and the glass were replaced with metal-framed windows. The workers did not finish the project Saturday, he said.

Property owners are required by the ordinance to obtain a certificate of appropriateness from the historic district's governing board when they make changes to structures in the district.

The aldermen on Tuesday directed the assistant town attorney, Leslie Daniel, to draw up a stop-work order for Police Chief Scott Ford to serve on the window company and Parish President Kevin Couhig.

The board also voted to have Daniel draft a letter outlining all of the alleged violations and giving Couhig 10 days to respond.

Daniel said the parish government's action is "bigger than shame on them, they should have asked permission."

She said the courthouse is a significant factor in the national recognition of the town's historic district and accumulated deviations from its architectural standards could jeopardize the town's standing.

Couhig said Tuesday night he was not aware that the board had a complaint about the work, but he said the metal-framed windows look "exactly the same" as the wooden ones but cost 3½ times less.

In other action, the board:

  • Agreed to let landscape architect Bill Reich draw up some ideas for beautification projects at three intersections on U.S. 61 in town.
  • Voted to obtain a new police car from Ford Municipal Leasing for $32,392 to replace a car that was wrecked last year. The town got insurance reimbursements on the damaged car totaling $11,280.
  • Accepted D'Aquilla's recommendation to add the town's natural gas system and sewage lift stations to a computerized program that now monitors the town's water wells. The program improvements will allow town employees to monitor, in the town hall, pressure drops in the gas system and problems with lift stations.