Patterson school access limited
PATTERSON, La. — The City Council authorized Mayor Rodney Grogan to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the St. Mary Parish School Board to limit access during school hours to an undedicated road behind Patterson Junior High School Tuesday at its monthly meeting.
In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Patterson Junior High Principal Suzanne Bergeron and School Superintendent Donald Aguillard asked the mayor and council to help the school to secure the campus as much as possible, Grogan said.
The undedicated road is about 300 feet to 350 feet long and enters the campus from Catherine Street. Bergeron and Aguillard asked the city to allow the school to lock the gate to block access to the road only on school days during school hours, said city attorney Russell Cremaldi.
On both sides of the road, the property is owned by the School Board. “In actuality, the only entity that has any use, any need on that street to get to its property is the school board,” Cremaldi said.
Though the street is undedicated, it has been featured on maps, and therefore, may be considered a public street, thus requiring the city to decide how traffic is regulated on the street and not the school board, Cremaldi said.
The city would be responsible for maintaining the gate because the gate is city property, but the school would be responsible for locking and unlocking the gate, Grogan said.
The city also introduced a proposed ordinance, which was essentially, the resolution put into ordinance form as a “precautionary matter” because an ordinance may be legally required, Cremaldi said.
The ordinance would authorize the mayor to enter into the agreement with the school board, Cremaldi said.
The ordinance will be up for adoption at the next council meeting.
The council also voted to adopt a resolution with the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding a $3.73 million 40-year loan from the USDA for construction of the city’s water plant. The City of Patterson also received a $700,000 grant from the USDA for the plant, Grogan said.
City clerk Pamela Washington will now submit the resolution to the USDA as is required to receive loans from the USDA.
The city already had $5 million in bonds approved from Patterson State Bank and Morgan City Bank in 2011, but the cost for construction of the plant went up from $5 million to $9.4 million since then requiring the city to secure more funding for the project, Grogan said.
The water plant, which has not begun construction, is expected to be completed within about a year if the plans stay on schedule, Grogan said.
The council also heard a complaint of a property owner not complying with a city ordinance.
Isiah Skinner Jr. of Leo Street, said that a neighbor next to him with a lot with no house on it put a fence up more than a year ago and also put up an approximately 30-foot-long non-residential building. A city ordinance states that only a single-family dwelling can be placed on the lot, Skinner said.
A city zoning ordinance also states that property owners cannot have a fence beyond the front portion of their house from the front of the house to the street, said public works director Steve Bierhorst.
“If you put up a fence it has to become even with the front of your house as far forward as you can go and then you go to your backyard,” Bierhorst said. “In this particular situation, it’s (the fence) up next to the road,” Bierhorst said. Bierhorst added that city manager David Lowery said he did not give the property owner permission to put the fence up.
“The general rule is that you cannot put an accessory building up on a lot without having the main building (house),” Cremaldi said.
Grogan said the fence has been up for about two years and the man has avoided the city’s compliance officers. He added the matter is an enforcement issue.
The Patterson police chief told Skinner that the property owner will be brought to court.