ST. FRANCISVILLE — The West Feliciana Parish Council put off a decision Monday on a zoning change request for a proposed recreational vehicle park on U.S. 61 at the parish's southern highway entrance.
Councilman Mel Percy said he wants more information on the effect that RVs entering or exiting the nearly 15-acre site would have on the traffic flow on U.S. 61 and the portion of La. 964 that connects U.S. 61 to a paper mill.
He also said he wants more information on the landscaping developer Craig Graham plans for the park, which Percy said is the "gateway" to the parish. The site fronts on the northbound lanes of U.S. 61 and would be the parish's first development on that side of the highway.
Parish President Kenny Havard, who resigned his state House seat in December, said he will attempt to get state highway officials to do a traffic study for the area, but he said getting the state to put a traffic light at U.S. 61 and La. 964 may be impossible.
He noted the state agreed to install right-turn lanes in that area in 2015, but money for the work was never appropriated.
The council also approved the final plan for Cedar Pointe subdivision on U.S. 61 north of the proposed RV park and agreed to rezone a portion of a 116-acre tract on Commerce Street, north of Old Highway 10, from rural-agricultural to planned unit development.
Councilwoman Sydney Picou Walker voted against the rezoning because the entrance road to the proposed 127-lot subdivision is in the corporate limits of St. Francisville and will be of curb-and-gutter construction. However, most of the development's road will not be curb-and-gutter.
"What you do in the front should be done in the back," Walker said.
The project engineer explained that the drainage plan is to direct all water to a central 13-acre pond in the development, which he said would be hampered by curb-and-gutter streets.
On another matter, the council set a 5:30 p.m. March 11 public hearing on a proposed ordinance setting a policy and fees for answering requests for public records.
The council typically does not discuss ordinance introductions, but Percy, in an email to his constituents, said he requested the ordinance in response to a lawsuit landowner Peter Truitt filed last year seeking to overturn a parish zoning decision.
"Over the years, people like him (Truitt) use attorneys in an attempt to bully their way and or try to prove a point," Percy wrote. The lawsuits and accompanying public records requests take a "tremendous amount of time and tie up our employees to do them," he said.
Earlier in the meeting, Parish Attorney Dannie P. Garrett III told the council that 20th Judicial District Judge William G. Carmichael recently issued a ruling dismissing Truitt's suit.
Certified public accountant Rodney Combs, of the auditing firm Postlethwaite & Netterville, reported on the firm's audit of the parish government's finances for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2018.
The auditors gave unmodified opinions that the financial statements accurately reflect the financial position of 13 governmental funds, including the general, road improvement, solid waste, economic development, water district and other funds.
Combs said an unmodified opinion is the best that is given under auditing guidelines, and he complimented the parish for maintaining an adequate general fund balance that could be used in an emergency situation.
The general fund had an operating surplus of nearly $900,000, which pushed the fund balance to nearly $6.2 million. Combs said the water district had an operating loss of $140,000, but the deficit was mainly due to a write-off of $300,000 in asset depreciation.
The audit report criticized the parish government for not amending its budget when the general fund's expenses exceeded the budget by 5.9 percent. State law requires the budget to be amended if revenue and expenses are more than 5 percent over the budgeted amounts.
The report also noted that apparent miscommunication between the parish and its bank resulted in Water District 13's bank accounts exceeding the amount insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. State law requires the bank to secure the additional deposits with securities pledged to the parish, but the report says the bank did not properly classify the water district's funds as public money.
The parish also was not in compliance with its ordinances pertaining to several bond debt funds, including setting up separate bank accounts for individual bond programs and submitting a report to a federal agency dealing with municipal bonds.
Combs said the adverse findings were not unusual, and parish officials have agreed to put in controls to correct the problems.