St. Landry council decides not to impose cell phone ban

The St. Landry Parish Council decided to take no action Wednesday on a proposal to ban by ordinance the use of cell phones during council meetings.

Councilwoman Pam Gautreau moved to table the cell phone introduction ordinance indefinitely until details of the ordinance could be discussed further by a meetings rules committee the council voted to establish earlier at the meeting.

The council voted instead, 6-5, to kill the idea of trying to ban cell phones from meetings.

Councilman Jerry Red Jr. questioned passing an ordinance banning cell phones that appeared to target only people who attend the council meetings.

“Are (council members) willing to keep our phones?” Red asked. “All we talk about with this ordinance are our constituents. Do we want to ban cell phones altogether or just put restrictions on them?”

Council member Wayne Ardoin, who brought up the matter of a cell phone ban during a committee meeting earlier this month, said Wednesday night that eliminating cell phones completely might be a little too drastic.

Ardoin suggested the council consider following the same cell phone procedures used in the parish courthouse which is adjacent to the council meeting room.

Persons entering the courthouse are told by security officers that cell phones cannot be brought into the building.

Parish President Bill Fontenot said comparing the use of cell phones at the courthouse and the council meeting room are different issues.

“At the courthouse (cell phones) are a security issue, especially with the judges and the courtroom,” Fontenot said.

Council member Timothy LeJeune said cell phones should be allowed inside the council meeting room if the people attending the meeting put their devices on silence or vibrate.

“Let’s do that and just move forward on this,” LeJeune said.

Voting against the introduction of the ordinance and to take no further action on the matter were Red, Fekisha Miller-Mathews, Herlin Dupre, LeJeune, Jimmie Edwards and Gary Courville. Those voting for the introduction were Huet Dupre, Ardoin, Gautreau, Dexter Brown and Alvin Stelly. Ronald Buschel abstained.

In another matter the council also voted unanimously against accepting Hidden Village Drive, Buttercup Drive and Dogwood Drive into the parish road system. The three roads comprise Hidden Village Subdivision, a residential area located off La. 103 west of the town of Washington.

John Billizon told the council that the access road leading to the subdivision has always been a private road, owned by his wife’s family for over a century.

Billizon said that since the creation of the subdivision, the access road he claims is family owned, was altered by the subdivision’s developers.

The alterations included elevating the road, which now floods his property, Billizon said.

Billizon said the issue between him and the developers over who owns the road is one that has been ongoing for years.