St. James Parish slaps 6-month moratorium on new RV parks

— The St. James Parish Council ordered a six-month halt to construction and development of recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds.

Councilmen Alvin St. Pierre, Terry McCreary, Jason Amato, Ralph Patin, Charles Ketchens and James Brazan voted for the moratorium during a Parish Council meeting Wednesday. Councilman Ken Brass voted against the measure.

The council made the decision after opposition developed to plans by a property owner to build a new RV park near Grand Point, a location between Lutcher and Convent.

Amato said that although the parish Planning Commission recently denied the property owner’s request for a permit to build the RV park because his plans did not comply with the parish campground ordinance, opposition from Grand Point residents prompted the Parish Council to reexamine the ordinance.

Some Grand Point residents had expressed “conflict” over the possibility of an RV park opening for business near their homes, Amato said.

The proposed 5-acre RV park could handle 100 recreational vehicles or trailers, Amato said.

The parish campground ordinance currently regulates campgrounds for mobile homes, but does not say where RV parks or campgrounds can be built, Amato said.

Officials want to look into creating language in the ordinance to guide future RV park development by adding such things as buffer zones near residential neighborhoods and requiring the parks to have asphalt or concrete roads, Amato said.

Council legal adviser Bruce Mohon suggested he and parish Director of Operations Jody Chenier study RV park ordinances from nearby parishes and report back to the Parish Council with their findings.

Mohon stressed the moratorium imposed Wednesday did not have to last as long as six months and that the council could shorten it if need be.

The moratorium will give officials “time to sit back and figure out what is the best process,” Brazan said.

But not all councilmen thought the moratorium would be needed.

Brass said the moratorium could negatively affect new industry wishing to locate in St. James Parish.

“I think we’d be setting a precedent as far as local businesses and also industry,” Brass said. “Maybe it would have an impact on them who want to develop in certain areas.”

Amato raised similar concerns after the meeting, saying industrial workers coming to St. James Parish would need a temporary place to live, an important factor that has to be considered in making changes to the campground ordinance.