PPC approves Permits Dept. subpoena for borrow pits infoApr 17th, 2012 | By Terri Sercovich | Category: news
Following a three-minute discussion, the Plaquemines Parish Council passed a resolution during their April 12 meeting, authorizing and directing the Council Attorney’s Office and the Council Secretary to prepare and issue a subpoena which requires the Permits, Planning and Zoning department to submit to the council all documents relating to the parish’s borrow pits.
Councilchair Byron Marinovich offered the resolution, and explained that the documents— which include permit applications, permits, resolutions, forms, letters, notes, e-mails, facsimiles, and receipts— are needed as the parish is involved in several court cases in which permit applicants are challenging the parish’s cloudy borrow pit ordinances.
“We’ve been trying to get some answers on who has a permit, who doesn’t have a permit, who’s grandfathered in, who’s ‘non-conforming, pre-existing use’,” Marinovich explained, “This is the first step in gathering information we need to make informed decision on which way we to want to go with borrow pit laws.”
The only other councilman to speak on the issue was Anthony Buras of District 5. Buras told the council that he usually does not support measures like this, but after his recent experiences with trying to obtain public records regarding borrow pits in his district, he feels very strongly about the subpoena and the subsequent mandamus on the Parish President.
“I would like to know what word I could use that’s stronger than ‘stonewalled’ but nothing comes to mind right now,” Buras stated. “Recently I’ve attempted to get information from the Permit’s department about a borrow pit in my district, and I was flat-out told that that only way I could receive information was if filled out a public records request that needed to be approved by the Parish President. That’s a shame and a disgrace.”
Marinovich was careful to note at the beginning of the brief discussion that Permits Manager Mike Metcalf “has been very forthcoming, sending us a bunch of documentation, and we appreciate that. We just want to make sure we’re getting everything we need, so we’re issuing a subpoena as a precaution.”
Marinovich added that “I’m tired of talking about borrow pits, it’s been an issue for over 30 years. I think everyone is this room has had enough of it, this will finally give us answers and decide where we need to go.”
This measure is just part of the council’s attempts at reforming the parish’s divisive borrow pit ordinance that has been criticized in past meetings as being convoluted and inconsistent.
There were several items on the agenda regarding borrow pits that were deferred to the next meeting, including a resolution directing the parish attorneys to draft certified letters that will be sent to all borrow pit operators, requesting them to schedule a date and time for the review of any and all sale tax records and documentation pertaining to their pit.
Another deferred item was an ordinance that would establish a six month moratorium on the issuance of all borrow pit permits while the PPG reviews and possibly adopts modifications to the existing borrow pit ordinance in light of recent court rulings.
The initial resolution regarding the issuance of a subpoena to the permit’s department passed by a 7 – 1 vote. The sole ‘nay’ vote came from Councilman Stuart Guey of District 4. Councilwoman Marla Cooper of District 8 was absent.