The introduction of an ordinance to rezone two lots in the Allendale subdivision in Leesville to a C-3 Neighborhood Commercial District drew a larger crowd than usual at the Leesville City Council meeting Monday.


The introduction of an ordinance to rezone two lots in the Allendale subdivision in Leesville to a C-3 Neighborhood Commercial District drew a larger crowd than usual at the Leesville City Council meeting Monday.
The council voted 6-0 against the introduction of the ordinance, with Danny Dowd (district three) not present at the meeting.
Residents who live around the surrounding area expressed their concerns and arguments as to why the the council should not introduce this ordinance.
Heath Dillon, who lives across the street from the construction site, told council that Teddie Dowden, a developer, has brought in dirt everyday for the past couple of weeks and has built the area up a few feet higher than it previously was.
"As a home owner, I have invested a lot of money and I really don't want my neighborhood zoned commercial," Dillon said.
Micheal Elliott (district four) asked Ed Ploski, city planner, if it was true that Dowden plans on building low-income apartments where the foundation work has begun on Port Arthur Terrace. Ploski said he was unsure, but that he had met with Dowden's son-in-law earlier that morning, who submitted a site plan but that they had not made a determination of how many units or what type of units they were going to build.
Mayor Robert Rose said that it is "disingenuous" that Dowden says he does not know yet what he plans on building when he is already putting foundation dirt down.
"Everyone in this room knows that when there is red dirt, that's preparation for foundation," he said.
Although there is no ordinance that prevents someone from coming in and clearing the land and adding top soil, Rose asked Ploski if he is required to have a building permit. Ploski said that there is no required permit for dirt work and that they can prepare the land, but that Dowden is "ahead of himself."
"Right now we don't have an ordinance to stop it, but we are working on it to control something like this," Ploski said.
Dowden has exposed a creek that runs behind the property, Rose stated, and has built a catch base to try and catch the runoff water that has increased. Rose noted that there is already a culvert under the existing medical building that runs into the street and now, he is concerned with the size of the culvert going under the parking lot which could create erosion and other drainage issues for the area.
A public works employee who was present at the meeting, confirmed that Dowden was responsible for the breaking of a four-inch water line by Byrd Regional Hospital a few weeks ago, and that he did not call the city to mark those water lines before doing so. Although Rose said he is not an attorney, it is his understanding that Dowden broke a state law when he cut the city water line.
Rose said that he would submit that Dowden is in fact underway with construction and that he is in violation with the city ordinance in terms of requiring a building permit, and that he would like the site plan reviews before issuing the permit.
"This is really a flirtation with the fine line of the law that he doesn't have to do a site plan review because he has filed a permit, but he's building foundations," Rose said.
Rose asked Hugh King, city administrator, to get with Jack Simms, Jr., city attorney, within 24 hours to look further into this matter and to issue a cease and desist order to stop all construction.
Pat Martinez (district one) said she is opposed to any commercial zoning in that area because many residents have invested their time, money and effort into building their homes. Rose agreed with Martinez, saying that the neighborhoods in Leesville cannot afford to be degraded anymore.
"They've all been degraded too much over the last 30 to 40 years," he said. "That would be an injustice to the property owners and it would be shooting ourselves in the foot for the future of our city."
Also at the meeting, Marvin Haynes, businessman and grant writer from Washington D.C., asked the council if they would work with him on the Memoranda of Understanding grant for the "Choice Neighborhood Initiative" to revitalize district two and bordering areas. Over a five year period, Haynes said they would use $30 million to construct 100 mobile home units, 50 single family homes, a senior center, playground and improve the sidewalks and streets. He told the council that he is not asking the city for any funding, but since they own the sidewalks and streets, in order to receive grant money, the city must approve.
Haynes said they will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. on May 24 at the Martin Luther King Community Center and invites all residents to attend to offer ideas of what they would like to see added or improved.
Since Rose was unsure if the council would need to pass a resolution in order to be involved in the memoranda, he told Haynes he would talk with Simms and get back with him within the next week.