Parish winning war against code enforcement violators

March 04, 2009 at 11:51 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

This abandoned home was one of the 354 active code violations that was closed by the Planning and Zoning Department. The owner of the home tore the building down.
This abandoned home was one of the 354 active code violations that was closed by the Planning and Zoning Department. The owner of the home tore the building down.
The St. Charles Parish Planning and Zoning Department isn't fooling around when it comes to cleaning up communities in the area.

The department, which is responsible for the enforcement of abandoned houses, junk and debris, high grass, zoning violations and derelict vehicles, has closed 354 of the parish’s 483 active code enforcement violations. Fifty more are being worked on by the parish's legal department.

Last year, the parish vowed to clear the backlog of files that accumulated when landowners failed to comply with parish orders to clean up their properties. Kim Marousek, the director of planning and zoning, said that most residents were willing to work with the parish and make their property comply with current regulations.

“We really work hard to try to achieve voluntary compliance with property owners,” Marousek said. “That is our main goal.”

However, if a resident doesn't comply, the parish will take them to court.

“The judicial process is very costly,” Marousek added.

As an example of recent compliance, Marousek mentioned a local man who was approached by a code enforcement officer about an abandoned home on his property.

“The owner came in, got a demolition permit, and tore the house down,” she said. “Now, there is a vacant lot ready for commerce in the community.”

Councilman Paul Hogan was concerned that the parish would have to get involved in picking up the torn-down remnants of homes such as the one Marousek mentioned. However, Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said that he is happy to have the parish lend a helping hand.

“My stand on that is that Kim and planning and zoning are actively seeking these blighted houses and in a lot of situations the community is hiring people to tear it down and move it to the street,” he said. “If they are willing to do that, I am willing to pick it up. Not only does it help that community, but it helps to beautify the parish.”

Along with focusing on code enforcement issues, the parish is also working to remove FEMA trailers from the area. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, there were 200 such trailers in the parish. Now, there are only 33, with only 17 of those currently occupied.

“We are working with FEMA to get the unoccupied trailers out now,” Marousek said. “We also want to get the residents living in the occupied trailers into some other kind of housing assistance so we can get those out as well.”

View other articles written By Jonathan Menard

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