Pointe Coupee PJ considering amending building permit ordinance

The Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury set a public hearing to consider amending its building permit ordinance, which has been at the center of controversy since jurors learned a local developer was granted a $20,000 discount on a building permit for an $8 million nursing home.

The proposed ordinance that attorney Dannie Garrett presented Tuesday to the Police Jury would essentially revert the parish’s current ordinance to a sliding scale fee schedule similar to the one it had before the jury amended the ordinance last year.

Garrett’s proposal would help reduce the permit fee costs developer Gerard LaCour complained had doubled when the jury amended its ordinance in May 2013 — seven months before LaCour applied for his permit to build a nursing home in New Roads.

Under the proposal, commercial developers would be charged on a sliding scale for building permits on projects costing more than $3 million. Developers are currently charged $5 per $1,000 in construction costs on all commercial developments.

The Police Jury voted 8-1 Tuesday to consider adopting an ordinance mandating developers be charged $5 per every $1,000 of the first $3 million in construction costs on large commercial developments, and then $3 per every $1,000 on the next $2 million in construction costs. A project exceeding the $5 million mark would then be charged an additional $1 per every $1,000 of any remaining construction costs.

If adopted, the ordinance would be retroactive to May 28, 2013.

Juror Albert Dukes was the lone dissenting vote Tuesday night. Jurors Kurt Jarreau, Russell Young and Justin Cox were absent from the meeting.

Cox last month accused the jury of “good ol’ boy politics” and asked the District Attorney’s Office, as well as the state attorney general and legislative auditor, to look into why the parish administration collected only $17,549 from LaCour for his building permit when the parish’s ordinance mandated he was to be charged $39,415 for his $8 million project.

LaCour said previously that he asked to pay the lower amount because officials failed to notify him that permit rates had increased before he submitted his permit application in December.

Last month, a majority of the Police Jury supported the parish administrator’s decision to allow LaCour to pay the lesser amount at the request of juror Kyle Olinde, LaCour’s representative on the Police Jury.

That decision was made contingent on the jury being able to amend its building permit ordinance so LaCour wouldn’t be forced to pay the additional $21,866 he still owes the parish.

Garrett told the Police Jury Tuesday that under the proposed measure, LaCour’s building permit would cost $23,831, which means the developer would owe the parish nearly $6,300.

The public hearing is set for the jury’s next meeting on July 8.

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter, @tjonesreporter.