City proactive in dealing with litter, music and firearms

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By Carolyn Roy carolyn@natchitochestimes.com

People who litter, play loud music and shoot firearms into the are should be warned that increased fines will probably be coming from the City Council. Most of the meeting Monday evening was a discussion led by Mayor Lee Posey seeking input from the council and “tighten up” on various problems.

Layne Miller , a Ragan Street resident, asked the council to address signs, banners and flags that residents leave up after festivals, in particular the Christmas Festival. Those items are usually put up to keep the public from parking on the property where they are located. Councilman Lawrence Batiste said there are remaining items at a house on Trudeau and Miller said there are some on Bossier Street. Posey said he would look into what can be done, since some may be on public right-of-way. David James spoke about excessive noise emanating from the sports bar at The Landing on Front Street. James owns condominiums next to the restaurant and said he has received complaints from the condo residents. There has been loud music, in particular vibrations from sub-woofers, as late as 2-3:30 a.m. and his tenants are upset.

Two of the residents have decibel meters to monitor the noise level. James said they were patient during the holidays but the noise has extended past that. The zoning ordinance states that the noise must not exceed 60 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Councilman Eddie Harrington said, “Sixty decibels is about as loud as my voice.” Chief Micky Dove said his department investigated two complaints Dec. 30. He told James to ask his tenants to report the noise to the police station rather than to his property manager. Posey said, “Let’s give it a chance to run its course. The City plans to do what we need to do. No one wants to listen to that.” Posey asked if the council wanted to have a work session to address increasing the first fine for littering to $500.

He plans to have a litter commission in place Feb. 1. Discussed were about general littering and particularly more serious problems like trees that have fallen on house. Director of Planning and Zoning Juanita Fowler said that a tree on houses could be a condemnation issue. She can write letters to the property owners asking then to remove the tree and can hire a contractor if they do not do so. “I’m hearing we want his pursued,” Posey said. As for recycling, Waste Connections has placed new, larger recycling bins on City property on Mill Street. The gates to the property will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the gates will be open during the same hours as the brewery.

On Sunday, the gate will be open all day. While there will be no attendants, Posey said the City plans to install cameras to identify the people who put non-recyclables into the bins. The City will also install signs stating the fines for illegal dumping. Harrington said he though the fine for violations should start at $1,000. Posey said he did not know how to stop people from dumping illegally behind the J.W. Thomas Apartments. Posey is getting complaints about skate boarders riding on Front Street that interfere with people who are walking. Councilwoman Sylvia Morrow said she had a problem with skateboarders rolling fast down Third Street behind the Natchitoches Events Center.

Another serious problem is people who shoot firearms into the air. Currently, the first violation is a $100, the second is $200 and the third is $300. The council discussed a $500 fine for the first conviction but learned from Assistant City Attorney Tommy Murchison that fines for first, second and third convictions are limited to a total of $500. The matter will get more discussion.

In other business:

•The council proclaimed Monday, Jan. 21 as Martin Luther King Jr. Day

•Introduced an ordinance for hay operations with McNeely Cattle LLC at the sewer treatment plant property which will eliminate the need for the City to mow 125 acres

•Introduced an ordinance to annex three tracts of land on University Parkway to enhance the entrance to the recreation complex; the property was acquired from the Evans Family Trust, Michael Ray Bowen and Grand Havens LLC

•Reappointed Gene Spillman and Peyton Cunningham Jr. to Waterworks District #1 Board

•Awarded contract for Public Officials Bond to Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America for an annual premium of $5,250