Barge owner a no-show at Destrehan town hall meeting
|Shonna Riggs/Herald Guide|
David Weidner, co-owner of Magnolia Fleet Barge Company, did not attend a town hall meeting about his company’s barge expansion. Because of that, residents left the meeting with their questions still unanswered.
Residents had hoped to speak with Weidner about the impact expanding his fleet operations would have on the community. But Weidner never showed up at the planned town hall meeting.
“I plan on sending Mr. Weidner a letter to answer questions the residents brought up at the meeting, and hopefully someone from the company will respond,” Benedetto said. “Some of the concerns were the noise, the lights, if the operations were going to be 24 hours or not, and what's on those barges.”
Weidner declined to comment on why he wasn't at the meeting.
“I also plan to write the Coast Guard to ask them to address the permitting issue,” Benedetto said. “Hopefully, this will work, but the Coast Guard spokesman said as long as the barges are not obstructing the waterway they don't have a problem issuing the permit.”
Steve Wilson, President of the Pontchartrain Levee District, wasn't at the meeting either, but says he did send Weidner a letter regarding a ramp he built atop the levee. The ramp was not built to proper specifications.
“I sent him a letter temporarily lifting the cease and desist order,” Wilson said. “He needs to make some changes per the letter I sent him and those changes only.”
Some of those changes include returning the original down ramp location to it's pre-existing condition, assuring that flagging or markers are in place to allow pedestrian and bike trail traffic proper warning of site work, and making sure all of the dirt is removed from the down ramp so it doesn't interfere with floodside levee drainage.
Wilson also warned Weidner that the corrections have to be made as soon as possible.
“I want Mr. Weidner to be aware to return of the revetment to original condition and that this matter should be expedited to eliminate concerns during hurricane season,” he said. “This release has no bearing on the pending application or the barge fleet modifications. Pontchartrain Levee District police will be monitoring this activity and the traffic associated with it.”
Wilson says he also urged Weidner to attend the town hall meeting and speak with residents about their concerns
“He has told me that he was willing to meet with everyone and I strongly encourage him to take some sort of action to ensure the residents are clear about the intent associated with his pending barge application,” Wilson said.
Benedetto says she is considering hosting another town hall meeting in the future.
“It's possible that we will try to do this again,” she said. “I think it's important that we work really hard to relay the residents’ concerns to the proper people.”
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