The West Baton Rouge Parish Council’s first meeting of the New Year kicked off with the unanimous reelection of Councilmen Kirk Allain of District I and Carey Denstel of District VI as Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council.
Solar Panel Standards
A majority of the public audience attended Thursday’s meeting to discuss the solar farm ordinance after the Parish Council put a moratorium on solar construction in the parish during the December meeting.
The ordinance was designed to establish standards for where solar panel farms can be constructed after one of the state’s largest solar facilities was constructed off Rosedale Rd., to the irritation of some residents.
After some debate and input from the public, the Council lifted the moratorium on solar panel construction in the parish. The new ordinance allows solar panel farms to be constructed in agriculture-zoned areas with special use permits.
Several council members expressed support for the special use permit aspect of the ordinance. Councilman “Fish” Kershaw said he would like to review further solar-related rezonings on a case-by-case basis. A motion to accept the ordinance as written was submitted by Councilman Alan Crowe and seconded by Councilman Kershaw.
Berthelot updated the Council on the planned expansion of the Intracoastal Canal roadway. The planned expansion will have three twelve-foot lanes in each direction, with ten-foot shoulders on either side of the roads, Berthelot said.
The operation is expected to utilize nearly 1,400 workers, according to Berthelot. The parish hopes to stagger construction shifts in order to minimize the traffic impact.
The Council reviewed a bid from Industrial Enterprises, Inc. for $93,233.90 for the South Riverview Intersection Rehab Project. Both PeeWee Berthelot and the state’s chosen engineering consultant, PEC Corp., recommended Industrial Enterprises for the project.
Berthelot expressed the belief that Industrial was one of the best contractors he’s ever worked with. Councilman Kershaw submitted a motion to accept the bid, which was seconded by Councilman Walker.
The Council accepted a change order related to a 20” water main installation in the infrastructure beneath I-10. The change order totaled $22,247.09. A motion to approve was submitted by Councilman Denstel and seconded by Councilman Joseph.
LADOTD Match Commitment
An acknowledgment of the Parish Council’s commitment to provide a 20% match to the Capital Region Planning Commission and LADOTD for various projects during 2021 was the only resolution of the night. The resolution is passed yearly for the state’s records, and was unanimously approved by the Council.
The Council reviewed a rezoning request for three lots located at 2002 American Way in Port Allen from I-1 (light industrial) to C-1.4 (industrial-transitional commercial district). Councilman Chris “Fish” Kershaw submitted a motion for approval, which was seconded by Councilman Denstel. The Council unanimously approved the motion.
Parish President Berthelot’s report to the Council began with the introduction of several Exxon Mobil Employees representing the corporation’s Good Neighbor Grant Program. The Exxon employees presented the parish with two giant “Happy Gilmore Checks” in Berthelot’s words, one for the LAPC for $2,500 and one for Mosquito and Animal Control for $1000.
The representatives stated the checks expressed Exxon’s gratitude for the continued support of their operations in the area and that a large number of the nation’s hand sanitizers were made and distributed at WBR’s Exxon Mobil plant this year.