AMITE--Tangipahoa Parish Council members vetoed a requested salvage yard on Highway 40 and S. Mansfield in Uneedus in District No. 2.
The unanimous vote to turn down the vehicle smashing industrial proposal came amid a conference room full of vocal residents. Over a half-dozen speakers came armed July 9 with photos, slide shows, alleged personal criminal background of the owner and other arguments.
How many of the crowd of 100-plus were opponents or supporters is anyone's guess. When council members completed their roll call, near-universal applause broke out.
And in a conciliatory action, the council voted a six-month moratorium on enforcing the controversial No Wake zone on the south Tangipahoa River, from LA 22 bridge south to the mouth at Lake Pontchartrain.
Pleasure boaters, water ski boaters and bass boaters are all on probation from now until Dec. 31, 2012.
If all goes well without problems from damaging and dangerous wakes, council members suggested they could agree to lift the 1988 ordinance and do away with it for good in 2013.
The compromise moratorium will please:
--a hundred or more camp owners on the river.
--hundreds of power boaters in an average week who consider it a highway.
--far fewer kayak and canoe enthusiasts, who may have mixed feelings in a powerful wake.
--law enforcement starting with the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff, Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents and occasionally the US Coast Guard. There has been little enforcement of the unpopular regulations--especially at a time when officers are spread thin with fewer resources.
How opponents argued against the auto salvage proposal by owner Brian Schweda:
--the proximity to Global Wildlife Center.
--danger to school children on buses at the S-curve on Hwy. 40.
--already overcrowded highway with sand, gravel and timber trucks.
--the lack of a permanent rest room for workers. The owner proposed a portable unit.
--ground water contamination that could enter wells and eventual flow into Lake Pontchartain.
--visual blight for residents, visitors and other travelers who enter Tangipahoa Parish from the east. "When kids come down Hwy. 40 on school buses, the perception of our parish is at risk," said area resident Jack Heriad. "They are heading to Global Wildlife, which is an asset."
--the fear that huge transport trucks would drop vehicle parts all over Hwy. 40. "I don't want to see hub caps and bumpers along the road," said Fred Kopfler, who lives near the proposed plant.
Critics also challenged the council:
--shouldn't the parish do a road study before voting on this proposal?
--what about harmful components that would be broken or dispersed at the proposed plant? The owner proposed storing vehicle batteries and one speaker said the parish does not allow such hazardous operations because of its ordinances.
--should there be zoning against this type of industrial operation in a rural and agricultural community with an attraction like Global Wildlife?