Mack Seeks Delay on Ordinance

A disgruntled Garry "Frog" Talbert listens as Shane Mack explains why the council should hold off on Talbert's proposed introduction of an ordinance to limit the amount of dirt fill on residential lots in Livingston Parish. Talbert's proposal died on a 4-4 vote at the April 11 meeting of the Livingston Parish Council.

LIVINGSTON -- Livingston Parish Councilman Garry “Frog” Talbert lashed out at four fellow members when they blocked introduction of an ordinance to regulate the amount of dirt fill on new residential lots.

A 4-4 deadlock at the April 11 meeting halted Talbert’s motion, which has been in discussion since early February. District 4 Councilman John Wascom was absent.

The flood control ordinance would limit dirt fill to 24 inches on new residential homes up to a half-acre, and 36 inches on lots larger a half-acre.

The risk of another devastating flood persists the longer the council delays action on the ordinance, said an angry Talbert, who represents the Watson area.

“We’re kicking the can down the road … it’s time for us to put on our big-boy pants and fix the problem,” he said. “You all say it’s two more weeks, but that’s 20 more permits that can be approved.”

The proposal was set for discussion before the council’s ordinance committee 90 minutes before the regular meeting.

The lack of a quorum forced Talbert – chairman of the committee – to scrap the ordinance meeting due to Wascom’s absence. Mack could not make the ordinance meeting due to heavy traffic on the Intracoastal Waterway after he left work but appeared in time for the regular meeting. 

Talbert opted to push forward with the ordinance and discuss any further changes when the committee meets April 25.

Mack requested one more discussion in committee before the introduction goes before the full council. He admitted he had not yet seen the entire ordinance and asked if it had been emailed to him.

“This is going to greatly affect people and what they can do with their property,” he said. “I would like a little more time to study this and make sure we have every “T” crossed and every “I” dotted to make sure we don’t hinder people’s rights to do things with their property.”

Councilmen Tracy Girlinghouse, Maurice “Scooter” Keen and Jeff Ard voted with Talbert to move ahead on the ordinance. R.C. “Bubba” Harris, Tab Lobell and Jeff Averett voted with Mack to delay introduction.

A revision in the ordinance since the previous meeting eliminates the requirement of the drainage impact study.

Morgan Sanchez, an engineer with Forte & Tablada, said the fill mitigation would eliminate the need for the additional study. The move would also ease cost burden on the home builder, Talbert said.

The council had the option to make revisions to the ordinance, even if it would have moved forward with the introduction, said Chad Bacas, vice president of Forte & Tablada, which handles engineering studies for the parish.

“Nothing is going to be perfect with this,” he said. “You may have to adopt something and if you see it’s not working right, you can change it. But I think this ordinance is a good start.”

Talbert hoped to introduce the ordinance at the March 28 meeting, but Wascom asked for the delay to provide additional time to study it.

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