Sunday, June 16, all bars in unincorporated areas of the parish are again allowed to stay open until 2 a.m., due to an executive order suspending the enforcement of a 10 p.m. closing time in effect since Feb. 17, 2012.
June 13, the West Baton Rouge Parish council voted unanimously to allow Parish President Riley “Pee Wee” Berthelot to sign the executive order, which will remain in effect until Dec. 31 of this year or until “any sooner date” the council decides to amend the Sunday closing law.
Berthelot said the executive order comes as the result of a ruling in the case “CHC Port Allen, LLC vs. West Baton Rouge Parish Council,” a case in U.S. District Court, Middle District of Louisiana since the law went into effect last year.
Crazy Horse Cabaret (CHC), a gentlemen’s club in the parish, contested the Sunday closing law, saying it was discriminatory.
The law, as it reads, imposed a 10 p.m. closing time on bar-rooms but exempted restaurants, grocery stores, drugstores, off-tracking betting parlors and truck stop casinos.
In February, CHC won a preliminary injunction, preventing the parish from enforcing the 10 p.m. closing time on CHC.
The court, under Judge James Trimble, Jr., called CHC a “virtual identical bar” to off-track betting parlors and truck stop casinos and stated in the February court documents, “At this juncture, the court can see no rational basis… to treat CHC’s bar any differently from the bars operated by its exempted competitors.”
“We have to treat ‘em all the same,” Berthelot said June 13, referring to establishments selling alcohol in unincorporated areas of the parish.
The parish has also secured a private investor for the LA 1, I-10 connector.
June 13, the parish council approved a resolution authorizing the parish president to sign a cooperative endeavor agreement between the parish and American Transportation Partners, “a nationwide investor and developer of transportation and infrastructure projects specializing in public private partnerships,” according to their website.
The agreement stipulates a one-year time period wherein the parish does not contact any other investors and allows American Transportation Partners one year to do their “due diligence” on the project, Berthelot said.
Berthelot said the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) would also like to revisit the subject of the connector as they update their statewide transportation plan. He said the connector added to the plan could potentially bring state or federal funding to the project in addition to private investment.
The parish is scheduled to make a presentation to DOTD at about 2:30 p.m. on July 24, Berthelot said.
Berthelot also announced June 13 that the parish is awaiting final approval from the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals for four splash pads in the parish. He said the Brusly and Erwinville splash pads could be ready first, with all splash pads up and running within two weeks.
Council member Randal Mouch was not present at the June 13 parish council meeting.