Parish still without redistricting plan

Published 12:29 am Tuesday, May 17, 2011

VIDALIA — Another week has passed and the Concordia Parish Police Jury is still without a redistricting plan.

The jury had a special meeting Monday night to discuss the issue once again, and for the second time in a week Oliver Schulz of Oliver Schulz and Associates and engineering services will have to revise the plans before they are voted on.

Schulz said there are only two changes that have to be made to redistrict the parish.

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The first recommended change by Schulz would be to move people from District 4 to District 5-A.

The proposed area that would move into District 5-A would be the area from Rabb Road to Levens Addition Road.

“Everything inside of this area is moving into District 5-A,” he said.

No members of the jury objected to this plan, which Schulz said would make both districts ideal in population size.

The second proposed change was to add more people into District 2 from District 3.

Schulz recommended that the Vidalia Meadows and Vidalia Manor apartment complexes on U.S. 84 be moved into District 2 from District 3, adding a total number of 119 people into the district.

District 2, which is a minority district, would be receiving an additional 37 black residents of the 119, leaving the district with an approximate 66 percent minority.

In the state of Louisiana a district must contain at least 55 percent of a minority to be considered a minority district.

District 2 Juror Willie Dunbar discussed concerns over the plan and the lack of additional black voters old enough to vote he would receive, so Schulz suggested adding an additional area of the parish into District 2.

Schulz recommended that Riverside Drive also be added to Dunbar’s district to help give him additional minority numbers.

Dunbar said there are approximately 10 to 15 houses on the road with the majority of the residents being black.

Dunbar said he needed more time to review the plan before he made his decision, and Schulz said there was not much more he could do to rearrange Dunbar’s district because of the lack of black residents living outside of District 2.

The plan to add Riverside Drive and the two apartment complexes into Dunbar’s district was the second plan Schulz recommended to the jury to solve the District 2 problem.

Last week Schulz suggested that the area of North Hickory and Stampley streets in Vidalia move into District 2 from District 3, but Dunbar also objected to those plans.

Jury President Melvin Ferrington said a decision needs to be made soon, because the deadline for the redistricting plan is coming up fast.

Ferrington said the jury will vote on the plan at their regularly scheduled meeting May 23.

If the plan is approved, the jury then has to advertise for a public hearing before making the final vote on whether or not to accept the ordinance.