Vidalia aldermen vote to pre-file new redistricting plan

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2004

VIDALIA, La. &045; Having a meeting instead of awaiting results from Tuesday’s primary, the Vidalia Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday night to pre-file a new redistricting plan for the town, putting them one step closer to an election.

Consultant Oliver Schultz drew up a new plan based on the 2000 Census results, which changed little of the town’s set districts.

District 1 will have more land because the industrial park and RV park were added, but not much changed in population, leaving it a predominantly black district.

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District 2 will be about 50 percent white. The other three aldermen will still be elected at-large from District 3.

There will be a public hearing at the April meeting on the new plan.

After approval, the town will send the plan to the U.S. Justice Department for its approval, and then to the secretary of state.

If approved in time, the Vidalia aldermen will appear on the September ballot.

Also Monday, the town took building codes under review until aldermen can receive all of the paperwork on the codes.

In the next meeting, aldermen can pre-file an ordinance to create codes and hold a public hearing in May.

Town Attorney Jack McLemore said the codes would have to be implemented by ordinance.

Vidalia Superintendent of Utilities Guy Thompson recommended codes for commercial buildings, residential buildings and electric, plumbing, mechanical and gas utilities.

Mayor Hyram Copeland said codes were &uot;an excellent idea,&uot; and Vidalia Fire Chief Jack Langston recommended the board adopt them.

Betty Faulkenberry of Concordia Parish Mosquito Abatement District No. 1 appeared before the board and town members about the proposed 4.2 mill tax for mosquito abatement programs, which will appear on the April ballot.

&uot;I’m not in favor of voting for a tax or supporting a tax that will not give me at least the kind of service I presently have or better,&uot; Aldermen John Betts said. He asked Faulkenberry what service the district could provide that was more than the town has now.

Faulkenberry said the town would have new equipment and chemicals, and the abatement district plans to spray seven nights a week. In addition, the state gives money for a parish-wide program only.

Vidalia resident Walter Stampley said he is opposed to the program unless &uot;Vidalia is left out.&uot;

&uot;I’m not in favor of people adding another tax&uot; for a service they already have, Stampley said.

In looking to approve an occupational license for a crawfish stand, the aldermen decided they will review and set mandates for all temporary vendors beginning this fall.

The board approved a temporary license for Don’s Auto Sales to hold a crawfish stand through Aug. 1.

The aldermen also said they will consider putting time limits on political signs in the city.

The board also said that in 30 days the town will begin to enforce its sign ordinance for businesses on Carter Street. All signs must be approved by the mayor and board, and they all must be professionally made.