Businesses challenge borrowpit ordinanceNov 29th, 2010 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
The future of parish borrow pits is still uncertain after last week’s council meeting. Council Chairman Don Beshel’s ordinance amendments creating strict guidelines for pit permits were deferred after several community members and business owners spoke against the changes.
Under the new regulations, permit seekers would need to submit extensive plans, outlining how their project would affect the land, and what steps they would take to prevent or rectify any runoff, erosion, sedimentation, or damage caused. Scaled detailed maps, which abide by the council’s specifications of the area and land’s natural features must also be submitted.
Permits would not be issued to projects on land less than two acres in size, within 1,500 of a levee, or within 3,000 feet of “schools, traditional communities, parks, playgrounds, hospitals, clinics or other health care facilities.”
Sound pressure level restrictions were listed in the ordinance as no more than 70 decibels (dBA) in residential neighborhoods, schools, churches and offices. 75 dBA would be permitted at industrial, utility, agricultural or undeveloped land.
The grandfather clause of the ordinance would allow people who already possess permits to keep them, so long as they submitted all documents proving they meet the requirements, and copies of permits issued by all State and Federal agencies pertaining to their project.
Brian Bubrig, president of Nairn Enterprises, recently received a permit and would be grandfathered in if the ordinance passes, but said he opposes tougher requirements.
“This is the worst ordinance I have ever seen, as far as small businesses go,” he said. “If no pit was allowed within 1,500 feet of a levee, I’d be out of business. It took me a year to get my permit, and cost an additional $17,000.”
Councilperson Anthony Buras, District 5, said he had a problem with the grandfather clause, as well, because it may shut down the digging of any pits in the parish, and levees are needed.
“The (Army Corps of Engineers) will expropriate the land and dig holes and never fill them in,” Buras said if the ordinance changes passed.
The ordinance amendment was motioned by Beshel and seconded by Burghart Turner, District 6. It had been originally taken up at the Oct. 28 meeting. It was deferred for the second time last Thursday.
One problem is earth being dug up and used to build levees, but the large hole that remains needs to be filled in or it could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, alligators and other pests.
Business owners protest
“Most of you haven’t read this, and have no idea of its implications,” Betty Morel-Bubrig, wife of Brian Bubrig, said from the podium to council. “If you adhere to your oath, you’d agree it doesn’t improve the life, economic development, or wealth of the parish. Its only intent is vengeance… Our saving grace is that some of you won’t be back.”
Lynda Banta, Council District 8, quickly fired back.
“I get calls from people complaining the alligators in the pits behind their houses are trying to eat their dogs. Citrus City was the nicest subdivision (in District 8), now, no one wants to live there because there’s God knows what in those pits,” she said.
Councilman Jay Freidman, District 7, has also received complaints from residents about the excavating. But rather than hungry alligators, grievances are with the vibrations caused by digging machinery resulting in an early morning cacophony, and even cracking molding and causing physical damage to the property.
“Steps need to be taken to address the adjacent property owners,” Friedman said.
Beshel said he will hold a collaborative meeting for all interested parties to attend and work on the legislation. The meeting is scheduled for the first week of December.
“Everyone can come and help draft the bill,” he said.
For more details on the meeting, call Beshel. His office line is 504.722.3929.