Lemoine speaks about departure


By Juanice Gray jgray@natchitochestimes.com

Former Parish Planning and Zoning Director Greg Lemoine discussed his recent departure from that position with the Times. In an attempt to “set the record straight” he decided to make the circumstances surrounding his departure public.

Lemoine said late in the afternoon of Monday, Sept. 17, he was called into Parish President Rick Nowlin’s office and was told the District Attorney’s office found too many instances of fees being waived and he was given the option of being fired or retiring. Lemoine said he felt he had no choice but to retire since he had to make the decision on the spot.

Lemoine said the grounds for his exit stemmed from a public records request that specifically cited individual permit numbers and instances. That request was referred to the DA’s office for review.

“After the floods of 2016, Rick (Nowlin) and I sat down together and decided to waive the fees for victims of the natural disaster,” Lemoine said. “My problem is I wanted to help people out and extended that waiver to fees for any type of disaster, whether it be fire, tornado or flood.” Lemoine said Nowlin told him his decision to remove him from his position was based on the fact that waiving fees cost the parish money.

“Technically, I didn’t have the authority to do so (waive fees), but my full intention was to help people. What is the difference between losing your home to a flood to losing it from a tornado or fire? You’ve lost your home,” he said. “I just didn’t have discretionary authority to do that.” Addressing the issue of his being banned from the courthouse, Lemoine said, “My personal items were packed up for me by Nowlin and staff and Sheriff Victor Jones, whom I’ve known for over 30 years, helped me take them out. Also, everyone except for necessary staff was pretty much kept away from the courthouse at that time because of the Hannah Barker hearing that was going on.”

The parish has been in a bind with no permits being issued since Lemoine’s exit. Those already in progress were also on hold due to the lack of a Certified Building Officer.