Louisiana’s St. James Parish Council ordered a six-month halt to construction and development of recreational vehicle parks and campgrounds.
The council voted 6-1 for the moratorium on Wednesday (Feb. 6) after opposition developed to plans by a property owner to build a new RV park near Grand Point, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, reported.
Councilman Jason Amato said that although the parish planning commission recently denied the property owner’s request for a permit to build the RV park because his plans did not comply with the parish campground ordinance, opposition from Grand Point residents prompted the Parish Council to reexamine the ordinance.
Some Grand Point residents had expressed “conflict” over the possibility of an RV park opening for business near their homes, Amato said.
The proposed five-acre RV park could handle 100 recreational vehicles or trailers, Amato said.
The parish campground ordinance currently regulates campgrounds for mobile homes, but does not say where RV parks or campgrounds can be built, Amato said.
Officials want to look into creating language in the ordinance to guide future RV park development by adding such things as buffer zones near residential neighborhoods and requiring the parks to have asphalt or concrete roads, Amato said.
Council legal adviser Bruce Mohon suggested he and parish Director of Operations Jody Chenier study RV park ordinances from nearby parishes and report back to the Parish Council with their findings.
Mohon stressed the moratorium imposed Wednesday did not have to last as long as six months and that the council could shorten it if need be.
As Hurricane Isaac lashes New Orleans this morning, campgrounds in Louisiana not in immediate danger are housing some storm evacuees.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm’s center early today (Aug. 29) was about 50 miles south-southwest of New Orleans and moving slowly. The storm came ashore in southern Louisiana on Tuesday.
Some campgrounds around Lafayette are playing host to residents from Southeast Louisiana fleeing from Isaac’s path, The Advertiser, Monroe, La., reported. Visitors started arriving Monday at the KOA Campground in Lafayette according to Kristan Lorraine, the site’s office manager.
We are getting a few. We’re not packed,” she said. “It’s not as full as (Hurricane) Katrina.”
Most of the visitors are coming from Laplace, Metairie and south of New Orleans, Lorraine said. She was still receiving inquiries Tuesday morning. Some of her guests were undecided what to do.
“Some are choosing to sit around here till noon to decide if they’re going to go further west,” Lorraine said.
At Bayou Wilderness Resort in Carencro, people from the New Orleans area have been calling and coming in since Sunday, said Ramona Benton, the campground’s office manager. Bayou Wilderness still had space available as of Tuesday.
Officials at the Kisatchie National Forest in the central part of the state want people to know that its campgrounds are not hurricane evacuation sites, The Associated Press reported.
Some people who left south Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Isaac showed up at the forest’s Winn Ranger District, hoping to camp out, and were sent to the state shelter in Alexandria, forest spokeswoman Amy Robertson said Tuesday. All of the Winn District’s recreation areas are closed until further notice.
“When the weather gets to be bad, we can’t let people stay because then it becomes an issue of ‘Would they be trapped?’” she said.
The forest includes five separate districts with land in seven central and north parishes — Rapides, Grant, Natchitoches, Vernon, Winn, Webster and Claiborne.
Meanwhile, Louisiana State Parks aren’t taking Hurricane Isaac evacuees yet, but they remain an option if needed.