Lafayette city-parish council's decision to override Mayor Joey Durel's veto on an ordinance effecting many in the community

Photo by KADN staff

Ordinance now in place prohibiting the use of recreational vehicles as permanent homes in unincorporated areas of the parish

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 12:03pm

In Lafayette living in an RV for more than 180 days is now against the law.  For Jim Gauthier with Gauthiers' RV Center that's a big problem, and not just for him.

"Anybody that wants to use this as a temporary home is going to be effected, and there's a lot more people like that than people realize.  All you have to do is drive through some of these camp grounds and ask how many people are working out of them and you're going to find it will blow you mind," says Jim Gauthier, co-owner of Gauthiers' RV Center.

The council admits the ordinance will need to be tweaked, but this gives them a jumping off point.

"I wanted the ordinance on the books that way everybody can see it and understand it, and then they can start making changes to it.  We amend ordinances every two weeks so this is no different," says Jay Castille, Lafayette city-parish councilman for district 2.

But Mayor Durel doesn't see it that way.

"I don't believe in passing something horrible, and then trying to fix it.  I think what you do is you fix it and then try to pass it," says City-Parish President Joey Durel.

"We're trying to stop the people from renting these RVs in their yards to other people.  There's places to put campers, there's places to put mobile homes.  We don't believe inside of a neighborhood you should have that in your front yard," says Councilman Castille.

And Castille says that's an ongoing complaint, but Mayor Durel says this ordinance is an overreaction to a minor issue, and there are flaws in the way it's written.

"The way this ordinance is written I decide what's enforced and what's not enforced, which is one of the things I thought was wrong.  It gives too much power to a city-parish president, it gives too much power to a department director and that sets up, I think, ugly possibilities in the future," Durel says.

Gauthier agrees, in fact, he says at least thirty-percent of his business comes from people in the oil field or construction working out of these temporary homes.

"This is so ridiculous.  I mean this is just, I'd like to ask these guys how do you pass a law or an ordinance knowing you have a problem without fixing it before you pass it.  I mean these guys ought to be a little bit answerable to what they did," says Gauthier.

And Castille says he understands that so he's working on an amendment that will protect local businesses.

"I don't want to hurt the RV businesses or the camp grounds so we're trying to find something legal, legal-wise that we can make work for everyone, but I do believe in the ordinance it's a good ordinance," says the councilman.

Mayor Durel says he will not enforce the ordinance if it is not amended.

"I feel like this council has sort of ignored property rights, and it worries me a little bit," says Durel.

Councilman Castille says he has yet to receive any calls about this ordinance from the public since the council's override, which he is taking as a good sign.  Amendments for the ordinance will come up at the council meeting set for December 17.

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