Variance for bunkhouse in Amelia denied

An Amelia property owner was denied a variance to operate a bunkhouse on Lake Palourde Road by the St. Mary Parish Board of Adjustments Monday.

Yuri R. Obergon was applying for the variance on property he owns at 3484 Lake Palourde Road.

Obergon was absent from the board’s meeting Monday but nearby residents of the property in a mixed residential zone appeared to state their objections.

According to the parish zoning law, bunkhouses are defined as residential units occupied by more than three workers and are only allowed in commercial and industrial zones after issuance of a specific use permit by the parish council.

Obergon’s application sought the nonconforming use variance to “operate a bunkhouse in a two apartment building for a total of 10 workers.”

The board heard from John Arceneaux and Noah Fryou both of Lake View Drive as well as parish Councilman Sterling Fryou who represents the area.

Louis Abshire who lives next door to the facility had previously complained about the facility to the parish council. Abshire told the council at its Aug. 22 meeting that he had seen a truck of mattresses being unloaded at the building.

“My wife and I — I’m 86 and she’s 82 — we don’t need this kind of disturbance around us,” he said.

Monday, Arceneaux and Noah Freyou also objected to the bunkhouse by expressing concerns for the safety of their families and the other children and the elderly in the area.

“I really believe that the introduction of this type of housing … you’d have a lot of idle traffic … allows more chance of unwanted activity to take place,” Fryou said.

“I highly recommend that y’all deny this variance,” Councilman Fryou said. He noted that the area had some bad experiences with bunkhouses in the heyday of the oil field in the 1970s.

“We’ve got a lot of experience and we don’t want that in Amelia, especially in a residential area where there’s a lot of kids and old folks live,” he said.

Upon motion by board member Scott Berry and a second by Larry Hotard, the board denied the variance unanimously.

The residence can still legally be occupied by up to three workers per unit, according to Planning and Zoning Director Tammy Luke.

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