WBR Parish Director of Utilities, Daryl Babin, was on hand at Addis’ May Town Hall meeting to warn the council and mayor of a “serious issue with the gas line” in the Acadian Crossing subdivision.
Babin said that he questioned the integrity of fuses on gas pipe lines in the subdivision after finding completely separated fuses within 20 feet of a resident’s door.
“It’s not a good situation,” Babin said. “I’ve been 33 years working with the parish and I’ve never seen this happen before - never a total separation like that.”
Babin told the mayor and town council, on May 7, that the gas line joint failure that took place on Easter weekend was the fourth gas line malfunction event since October 2013.
According to Babin, the parish received reports of leaking gas lines on September 27, 2013 (the same day the gas was turned on); February 17 and 21, 2014; and April 20.
He said that the parish repaired each joint after the failures, but once his office realized the continued issues, they decided to contact the town and the original contractor who installed the lines.
“We repaired the lines, and we saw the progression. We realized that this is not right,” Babin said after the meeting. “We made everybody aware of it, but now it’s time to make sure everything is done right.”
Babin explained that Addis’ maintenance bond period is still in effect, as the town council accepted the subdivision in October 2013.
“You still should be well within that one year period within your maintenance,” Babin told the council during the meeting.
He explained that the maintenance bond is a warranty period, of sorts.
“Anything that was installed, any improvement that was made that was part of that subdivision… the maintenance bond protects you against any situation like that,” he explained. “(Addis’) maintenance bond can be called in to pay for making this right.”
Babin said that the warranty period goes into effect after the governing body, Addis in this case, accepts the project, and each improvement to the subdivision that was made prior to the date of acceptance is subject to the warranty.
Because the town of Addis uses the same gas lines as the parish, the issue, though within the town limits of Addis, is a parish issue though Addis remains the governing body.
Babin came forward to the council to request that they not allow any building or occupancy permits in the second filing of Acadiana Crossing until the gas line issues can be remedied.
“We realize it’s our issue, but in the meantime it’s the town of Addis’ issue from that standpoint with the seriousness of the safety,” Babin said to the mayor and council. “What I’d like to ask of you to consider is to not sell any more building permits or occupancy permits in that subdivision until we can resolve this.”
David Toups, Addis Mayor, said that he thought it would be a good idea to follow the recommendation of Babin in the interest of town safety.
“Once we get the resolution and the parish is OK with the gas line, they’ll let us know and we can lift them. I think it’s something we should do in the name of public safety,” Toups said.
Council member Lance Gauthreaux made the following motion, which was seconded by council member Tate Acosta:
“Based on the report from our engineer and the recommendation from him and the recommendation from the owner/operator of the parish, that until resolution of the safety issue of this gas line installation and services, we are going to issue a moratorium on the issuance of all building and occupancy permits in the Acadian Crossing, second filing.”
The motion was passed unanimously.
Acosta said that, along with the moratorium, he thought each of the residents in Acadian Crossing should receive a certified letter warning them of the hazards and possible dangers of the faulty gas lines.
“That’s the number one thing that we could be held liable for - if we know something’s wrong and we don’t tell them,” Acosta said. “Something needs to be done tomorrow.”
Babin agreed, as did other members of the council, and said that the parish would put together a certified letter, in conjunction with the town, to send to residents.
Acosta said he wants to see all new gas lines put in place to be assured that the problems do not persist.
Babin said that once the contractor comes back to complete the job, per the maintenance bond, he expects the work to be done properly.
“I have a lot of expectations. Put a new pipe in the ground, get it pressure tested, get it good and ready to go, and we’ll take it from there. And when we’re through, the first pipe - we want it out of the ground; we don’t want anyone confusing two gas lines,” Babin said. “There are big expectations here, but that’s the right way to do it. If they had done it right the first time, we wouldn’t be sitting here talking about it.”
Babin said that the area where the issues were occurring is in the second filing of Acadian Crossing – in a concentrated area of homes as well as several open properties.
In other business, the Addis council agreed to lower the speed limit in the River Crossing subdivision from 35 miles per hour to 20.
“The homeowners association requested that we change the speed limit from 35 to 20 to match what’s in Sugar Mill,” Toups said. All through Sugar Mill the speed limit is 20 mph, even on the boulevard.”
He said that the town will order new speed limit signs for the neighborhood to reflect the new 20 mph speed limit.