Bypass permits and pay

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 9, 2009

VIDALIA — Those who build in Concordia Parish without the proper permits could face twice the fees they would have had to pay if they had gone through the proper channels.

That’s the message Rapides Area Planning Commission’s Director of Operations Matt Johns brought to the police jury meeting Monday.

The RAPC is the agency that the parish has contracted to implement and enforce the new building ordinance the parish adopted in March, which requires new structures to be able to withstand hurricane-force winds, among other things.

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The jury had requested Johns come to answer questions they had about the new ordinance.

The double-fees won’t necessarily be levied against a homeowner who was unaware of the changes, Johns said.

“We don’t always try to go in and knock them on the head with double fees,” he said. “Sometimes, when you deal with people at the front and they say, ‘We aren’t going to do anything;” and then they go ahead and do it, those are the ones we give the double fees.”

When Police Juror Willie Dunbar asked Johns what jurors should do if they know of any construction that is being done without a permit, Johns said they should contact the local inspector RAPC uses.

From there, the agency can issue a stop work order.

“I know it is private property, and we hear that argument all the time, but if it is new construction and people are going to be in it, it is a safety concern,” Johns said.

During the meeting, the jury voted to advertise for bids for someone to lay the foundation and build the outer shell of a new storage building at the courthouse.

Once the outside is built, the police jury can finish the inside of the building itself, President Melvin Ferrington said.

The jury also voted to advertise for bids for a special storage compartment for old records from the clerk of court’s office.

The compartment would be stored at the courthouse.

Currently, the clerk’s office is renting five storage buildings, and whenever someone needs an old record, the office has to send someone to the storage buildings to retrieve the record, Clerk of Court Clyde Ray Webber said.

The records are also being damaged by humidity and mold, he said.

“We would be getting all of these valuable documents out of storage it’s not fit for,” Webber said. “We can’t throw anything away, so it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

In other news, the jury voted to advertise for a public hearing about setting the speed limit at 30 miles per hour on Nichols Road.