Tangipahoa Council refuses to set deadline on charter review commission

AMITE — The Tangipahoa Parish Council chose not to set a deadline Monday for the commission studying possible changes to the parish charter.

Councilman Nicky Muscarello said if the council receives the proposed changes by May 27, any proposed changes could be put before the voters on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Any changes to the charter, which has not been reviewed or amended since its adoption by parish voters in 1986, must be approved by a majority of the voters in the parish.

Last year, the council created a commission to study the charter and recommend changes. The commission is chaired by Tony Licciardi, who formerly served eight years on the Hammond City Council.

Councilman Lionel Wells said he did not favor setting a deadline for the commission because all councilmen had agreed when the commission was created that there would be no interference or instructions from the council.

“It seems to me that if we put a deadline on the commission then we are doing exactly what we said we wouldn’t do, interfere with the work,” Wells said. “I think we should give the commission as much time as possible. … This is very important and I think we should get it right.”

Muscarello said he had discussed the deadline with Licciardi and it was his opinion the commission wanted a deadline so they would have a time frame with which to work. Muscarello said he was not against killing the resolution because he wanted to discuss it with commission members.

Also Monday, the council called on the railroad companies operating in Tangipahoa Parish to clear grass and bushes from rights of way along the tracks.

Councilman Carlo Bruno said railroad lines in the parish pass through neighborhoods that have homes and businesses close to the tracks.

He said, in some instances, thieves steal from residences and businesses and hide their “loot” in the tall grass and come back to claim it later.

Councilman Louis Joseph pointed out that last year, against objections from the council and residents, the railroads closed four crossings for safety reasons.

“They preached safety to us, and now they let grass and trees grow up around the crossings creating a serious safety hazard. It’s time they cleaned up the rights of way along their tracks,” Joseph said.

Bruno said if the railroads do not heed the council’s resolution, then an ordinance requiring the clearing may have to be adopted.